City revisits riverfront master plan
In 2017, the city of Newberg took steps to update its 16-year-old riverfront master plan, but was interrupted by construction of the Newberg-Dundee bypass, which runs parallel to the waterfront.
The original 2002 plan suffered some setbacks due to exterior forces and unpredictable conditions, including the recession, planning and construction of the bypass and the closure of the Westrock mill in 2016. As a result, city officials chose to wait until January, when the first phase of the bypass was completed, before moving forward to revisit and revise the 2002 plan. Although there is movement toward the sale of the mill, there's no telling whether the buyer would acquiesce to allow the city access to the land either for public or private development.
Now, with a $200,000 grant from the state's Transportation and Growth Management Program to create a plan, the bypass completed and a desire for Newberg to become a more walkable town blended with natural amenities, it is time for the plan to be revisited.
"We updated a lot of our infrastructure plans, the transportation and water master plan update," senior city planner Cheryl Caines said. "We are getting ready to adopt the wastewater master plan update and so a lot of those things have changed. That makes the 2002 master plan out-of-date on those. We also just adopted the downtown plan."
There are a few considerations when creating the update: the bypass transects the area that comprises the 2002 riverfront plan, and the planned residential and commercial spaces. The closure of the mill put more than 200 acres of riverfront land in flux.
"When we formed the citizens advisory committee we have a placeholder with Westrock or whomever may purchase it, so they can be involved," Caines said.
The goal of the planning process is to create a long-term vision for the riverfront area based on feedback from the community and advice from the committee. The first of several meetings was held May 23 to hear from the public, review the background of the project and define committee members' roles.
Caines developed a projected calendar with goals as a guideline for planning in concert with the committee. The committee is slated to review the information from the May 23 meeting and input from the public to present a draft by the end of July, followed by a public event in August and a final draft in September. Final adoption of the revised plan is expected in May 2019.
"It is a very busy time for all of us," Caines said. "I'm excited about getting this project underway."
The schedule includes two online public events and two public meetings to be held by mid-December. The city is encouraging the public to get involved and to sign up for project emails on the city's website at https://bit.ly/2xdysAW.
Origins of the plan
The original plan included a footprint that encompassed about 460 acres from Wynooski Street to Ninth Street and included 115 acres of mill land, the Rogers Landing boat ramp (which is primarily owned by Westrock as well) and part of the bypass route.
The vision in 2001, generally, was that of a mix of residences and commercial enterprises, all taking advantage of the location along the river and including walking, biking and improved transportation to the area.
"One of the things that the mayor and other people pointed out to the (committee) is that they want to make sure there is a connection between downtown and the riverfront," Caines said. "We want the synergy in between the two."
State joins the effort
According to the state's award letter, the plan will need to be updated "according to current market conditions and transportation infrastructure, creating a workable plan for a multi-model transportation network through and connecting the area to the rest of the city, a zoning pattern that includes the appropriate mix of residential and employment uses, identified open space areas, and other features unique to the riverfront area."
A future possibility is a trolley connection that utilizes the former mill train track to connect the riverfront with downtown and, ultimately, the Allison Inn & Spa.
According to the 2002 plan map, low and medium density residential and commercial is slated to be buffered near the bypass side while open space buffers the river. Pedestrian walkways will connect residential, commercial and open space on the river to Rogers Landing and Chehalem Creek. Additional walkways are proposed that would run under the bypass up College Street and toward Ewing Young Park.