By Gus Burril
Madras City Administrator
There has been much growth and change in Madras over the last 12 months. The Madras City Council approved many projects that will spur even more growth and development in 2019.
Madras is no different than other communities throughout Oregon where housing shortages abound. The Madras City Council recently approved an extensive Housing Action Plan that was developed with substantial input from developers, businesses, nonprofits, and the community.
This plan includes incentives that can promote healthy growth for housing of all income levels. Just one of the many incentives is the concept of significant reduction of systems development charges for all housing types.
Our Community Development Department and Public Works Department have partnered in this effort to ensure the future needs of the city are met while incentivizing current needs to build housing.
We are also studying the concept of an urban renewal district for housing that would redirect property taxes from new housing construction to help buy down the cost of additional housing for all income levels, with an emphasis on workforce housing.
Other projects related to housing include the development of infrastructure, such as the sewer project we just completed in the Bel-Air-Herzberg Heights neighborhood.
Our Public Works Department worked hard on obtaining grant funds to assist with this project and help homeowners find financial assistance. This type of infrastructure work increases property values. More infrastructure projects like this are planned for 2019.
Downtown is seeing a resurgence of new businesses, expansion of existing businesses and a new downtown association that is hosting events such as First Thursday, Trick or Treat, and Holiday Tree events. There are less empty spaces in our downtown buildings and more dining and shopping options for our community.
These business owners are working hard, and we are supporting their efforts through support from the Madras Redevelopment Commission, Chamber of Commerce, the Community Grant Fund and all our departments.
In the area of commercial/industrial business and development, Madras has been busy. In addition to the many businesses that have opened in the last 12 months, several have also expanded and more are on the horizon.
In the industrial area, Daimler Trucks North America has begun construction on the third phase of improvements (which will include a welcome addition to the Madras Dragstrip), and new building additions are slated for Pratum and Sierra Case Parts.
In other areas, lots are being remediated in locations our community has long sought to see change for — such as the old Rock Shop on Highway 26 and the Masonic Building on Fifth Street.
At the airport, not only did we receive the urban growth boundary expansion and annexation of approximately 1,175 acres, but through grant funding matches, we've begun reconstruction of the taxiway and are making storm water improvements there. These are both part of the Airport Master Plan update.
Having a great working airport, combined with places to stay, eat, and play, is an asset that helps to improve the economics in all other areas of our community.
We're also working aggressively on building beautiful green spaces and outdoor experiences throughout our community and developing a Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan with extensive input from the community.
Through generous donations from the community and several grants, one big addition to our parks that will be here by summer 2019 is the spray park. But it's not the only addition to our parks and trail system we have planned. Crescent Park will get new playground equipment and there are some new things planned for our trail system.
To keep the momentum going, we need strategists, visionaries, and leaders who are interested in helping create a vibrant, responsive community where our residents can thrive and grow.
If you're interested in serving on one of our committees, commissions or boards, please visit our website and click on the "Get Involved" section. We also welcome your feedback at our City Council meetings — the dates and agendas are posted on our website at www.ci.madras.or.us.
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