Estacada sees 10 years of growth and new projects, from new housing developments to a completely renovated street

PMG FILE PHOTO - Dancers from Estacada High School help celebrate the completion of the downtown Broadway Street renovations in 2015.

Imagine it's the summer of 2020, and someone walks down a renovated Broadway Street while crowds gather for Estacada Uncorked. As residents and guests explore the event and neighboring businesses, cyclists might embark on an adventure beginning at the Estacada Station Cycling Plaza. Slightly further away, residents in the Campanella Estates subdivision relax in their homes.

Ten years ago, many of these amenities did not yet exist. The 2010s were an eventful decade in Estacada. The era saw a population increase and many new projects, including community events, housing subdivisions and a completely remodeled street in the downtown core.

Broadway Street gets a makeover

In 2015, the Estacada Urban Renewal Agency embarked on a project that many would cite as one of the decade's most influential: the renovation of Broadway Street between Highway 224 and Second Avenue. Construction on the $1.8 million endeavor began in February 2015 and was completed in June 2015.

"(The) Broadway improvement project has had a powerful and ongoing impact on our town. It has made residents proud and allowed visitors to see Estacada in a new light. I love the plantings and new light poles and benches and lighted trees and artistic touches," said Jane Reid, founder of the Estacada Summer Celebration.

The project brought new streetlights, extended sidewalks, street trees, benches and additional public art. The effort was the first step toward implementing the Estacada Downtown Riverside Area Plan, which was adopted in 2011.

"(It) dramatically changed the appearance of our city's central business district," said Spiral Gallery artist Phil Lingelbach.

Along with an improved aesthetic, the project also led to more significant changes.

"The streetscape has changed the way many think of about our hometown," said Brent Dodrill, a member of the Estacada Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors and pastor at Estacada First Baptist Church. "It's no longer a struggling mill town trying to find a way to survive, but a city that has moved ahead with a new identity and focus."

Estacada City Manager Denise Cary noted that the Broadway Street project, along with other Urban Renewal projects, have "jump started a rebirth of the downtown."

"This began the rebranding effort and promotion of Estacada as an unexpected, untamed and unforgettable community and a great place to live and visit," she said, referencing the city's logo and branding language that were adopted in 2016.

Though the logo initially drew mixed reviews from the community, it was adopted by additional groups like the Estacada Chamber of Commerce and the Estacada School District.

Population boom

Last year, officials from Portland State reported that Estacada was one of Oregon's top 10 highest growing cities over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2018, Estacada had a growth rate of 26%, making it the eighth fastest growing city in the state.

PSU's 2019 population estimate was 3,725, while the population in 2010 was 2,695.

Just as the city has seen many new residents, there's also been an influx of new home construction. In 2010, 44 permits for single family-houses were approved; in 2019, 112 were approved. In total, 529 single-family houses were approved this past decade. Many subdivisions began to take shape, including Campanella Estates and Cascadia Ridge.

Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine acknowledged that the city's growth is a concern for some community members.

"I made a vow that we wouldn't become like the metro (area)," Drinkwine said, noting that he's been advocating for spread out neighborhoods, green space and safety precautions in the new housing developments. "We're going to do this right."

He added that the city's growth has made many projects possible.

"We wouldn't have the money to do half of what we've done if it weren't for (system development charges)," he said.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Children dance during the Estacada Harvest Festival several years ago. Organized by the Downtown Estacada Commission, the Harvest Festival was one of several new events to originate during the past 10 years.

Saying goodbye

Several Estacada institutions closed their doors during the past 10 years, including the Estacada Safari Club and Mike's Secondhand Store.

The Safari Club was demolished in 2017 after being closed since 2013, and Mike's Secondhand Store closed upon Mike Doolitte's retirement in 2015.

The Safari Club, Fourth Avenue and Broadway Street, was once home to more than 100 taxidermied animals from around the world and also included a restaurant and bar. The site is now home to Dollar General. Mike's Secondhand Store, on Highway 224, featured thousands of one-of-a-kind items. Adventist Health now has a clinic in the building.

"(They) were fun things that brought people out here. It was a great loss to the community," said Estacada historian and writer Kathryn Hurd, noting that people would come from across the state to visit these attractions. "(But) we have to understand that things are going to change, and be replaced with things that help us grow."

A decade of education

The Estacada School District has seen many triumphs during the past 10 years — including a 17% graduation rate increase.

"Our great triumph is continuing to get more students across the graduation stage," said Estacada School District Superintendent Ryan Carpenter. "That's a real windfall, and the credit goes to the teachers, community members and family members we partner with to deliver our students to success."

Prior to graduation, students can engage with a variety of subjects. During the last decade, elective offerings have more than doubled, largely with funding through Measure 98. Automotive and manufacturing were previously half-time programs. Now, they are available full time. Additionally, students can also take classes in agriculture, culinary arts and journalism.

"Kids have the opportunity to do things they're truly interested in," Carpenter said.

Along with more academic opportunities, there has also been an increase in other chances for support available to students, including a food pantry and clothing closet.

"It's encouraging to see the growth of wraparound services and support," said Maggie Kelly, communications director for the Estacada School District. "We're supporting the whole child and the whole family, and all of their needs."

For six of the last 10 years, the Estacada School District has had a strategic plan in place to help guide them into the future.

"We have a roadmap to where we're going," Carpenter said, adding that this was not in place prior to 2014.

Additionally, teachers have increased opportunities for collaboration through professional learning communities.

"Ten years ago, teachers largely worked in isolation to solve problems, but we've put them in teams now," Carpenter said.

Looking to the future, one notion that school district leaders hope to continue discussing with community members is the possibility of a general obligation bond.

"We're engaging with the community to have a conversation about a construction bond, which is something we're deeply engaged in," Carpenter said.

Previously, voters turned down a $55.1 million general obligation bond in the November 2016 election. Funds would have been used to support capital improvements in school buildings.

Though much has changed during the past decade, Carpenter pointed out that not everything has.

"One thing that's stayed the same is that the Estacada School District has always been great," he said.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Estacada High School agriculture students connected attendees of the 2019 Estacada Harvest Festival with animals. The agriculture program is part of the school districts growing collection of elective offerings.

Enhancing community pride

During these past 10 years, residents have had many new opportunities to come together.

New events like the Festival of the Fungus, Harvest Festival, Estacada Uncorked and the Community Recognition Ceremony, joined established traditions like the Timber Festival and Summer Celebration.

"There's a city wide emphasis on community, and events deliver a sense of community," said Hurd. "Any events downtown bring people together and let people get to know each other."

Many events garner out of town visitors along with local attendees.

"This past decade marked the creation of the annual Estacada Festival of the Fungus and its development into a vibrant educational event that attracts mushroom aficionados, tourists, young people and ecologically-minded folks, both local and from the Pacific Northwest and beyond," said Nolene Triska of the Estacada Fungus Association.

Drinkwine added that several spaces have been created to facilitate community gatherings, including the Broadway Street renovations and updates to Wade Creek Park.

"We're focusing on making community areas where people can talk, catch up and know they're safe," he said. "That's what draws us together."

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