Opinion: Restore the original Park Place Village Plan
I am deeply troubled by the proposed development that removes a key component of the Park Place Concept Plan to provide "the two primary north-south connections between Holcomb Boulevard and Redland Road" (Swan Avenue and Holly Lane).
The vision drafted for the Park Place Concept Plan was for it "to provide a framework for growth that respects and augments the area's context, history and natural systems. The Concept Plan emphasizes good urban design, connectivity, opportunities for place-making and cultivating community, diversity, and above all, a way to provide for future growth in a sustainable manner."
During the multiple Concept Plan meetings it was stated clearly that the Holly Lane extension (in particular) was deemed of the utmost importance to the city of Oregon City, which recognized back then the pressure of having just the single two-lane Holcomb Boulevard providing the main access into the neighborhood. Holcomb's narrow sharp bend at the bottom means there is not enough room for sidewalks.
Having one access road into the neighborhood was deemed a hazard for evacuation and access during an emergency 15 years ago. Since then, multiple other developments have been and continue to be built, with no new connector roads.
The Concept Plan for the biggest development yet (then referred to as the Park Place Village) provided the much-needed connector roads that have now been eliminated. This leaves all the heavy-duty construction traffic, plus the future residential traffic, to be carried solely by Holcomb Boulevard. During the 2020 wildfire evacuation, it took our family one hour to travel one mile down Holcomb.
It has been noted that the Park Place Village is now referred to as Park Place Crossing, possibly because the original concept was to create a neighborhood center in the heart of the community, with live/work development, along with retail, office, civic space and good connectivity to the rest of the city, all of which has mostly been abandoned. To reduce vehicle trips on Holcomb (and Redland Road, given the Holly Lane extension would be built) the concept of a village was planned, with enough amenities provided in place for residents to reduce trips out of the neighborhood.
I would urge our city's Planning Commission and other elected leaders to thoroughly read through the original Concept Plan as devised with input from multiple residents of the neighborhood over many months and to drive the area, noting the constraints on egress posed by Holcomb Boulevard for such an enormous development.
In the interest of public safety and to maintain some kind of livability in Park Place, this development should be shelved until additional connector roads are built, providing the already desperately needed safe connectivity to the rest of the city.
Jackie Hammond-Williams, a resident of the Park Place Neighborhood in Oregon City for over 30 years, served as a member of the Park Place Concept Plan Committee.
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