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A new development master plan is in motion; city would like to get input from the public

FILE - The city of Newberg is moving forward on its riverfront master plan and will seek public input through an online questionnaire.

The city of Newberg is updating its 2002 riverfront master plan for future development and is asking residents to provide their input.

The planning department has an online questionnaire that takes about 15 minutes to fill out and will remain until Sept. 10 at https://bit.ly/2BYeY64.

Efforts to update the plan have suffered some setbacks due to the closing of the paper mill and construction of the first phase of the Newberg-Dundee bypass. Now that the bypass is complete, the vision for the riverfront can move forward, although there's no indication the mill issue will be resolved anytime soon.

The general idea of the master plan is to connect the riverfront with the downtown core, install areas with river overlooks, erect public art, build nature trails and provide land for a variety of housing and commercial projets.

The bypass will be included as part of the plan as there are large swaths of land beneath the thoroughfare and adjacent to the riverfront. Suggestions include a walking path, a new skateboard area or a mountain bike trail that winds beneath the bridges and the bypass. The mill will be included in the plan as well because its footprint includes more than 115 of the 460 acres of the total planning area.

The city received more than $205,000 in funding for planning from the state's Transportation and Growth Management Program.

As it stands, most of the land is within the city's urban growth boundary and is comprised of medium- and high-density residential parcels as well as industrial, commercial and land owned by Chehalem Park and Recreation District and WestRock.

The area stretches along Ninth Street north to Wynooski Street on the east, down toward the river and includes Rogers Landing and the former landfill site on the south, then west to Chehalem Creek.

Some of the area within the plan is already developed or has planned neighborhoods, parks, stream corridors and floodplains. The unbuildable area are the areas with environmental constraints, including public parks and the bypass.

"I think one thing to keep in mind is the fact that the area includes the neighborhood north of the bypass," City Planner Cheryl Caines said. "However, we do not anticipate much change in development patterns there. This is an established neighborhood. The purpose for including it is to improve connections from that neighborhood to the riverfront and to other areas of the city – like downtown Newberg. Also the area is approximately 460 acres, but with the environmental constraints (floodplain/stream corridor/steep slopes), park uses and existing residential development patterns, land is somewhat limited."

Developing the riverfront is a long-term goal because the fate of the mill is uncertain. Rumors continue to fly regarding the possible sale of the mill and the stipulations WestRock may be placing on the sale. Yet, although the saga of the mill continues, the city has not given up on its vision to beautify the city's riverfront and make plans for the future.

"WestRock is aware of what we are doing and we are sending them material," City Manager Joe Hannan said. "We prefer to have a person in place at the table and they know what the committee is and what they are looking at. We offered them the opportunity to make comments and at this point they haven't, but we are still comfortable with conversation. At this moment they have told the press and everyone else that they are re-evaluating what they want to do with the site."

Regardless, city officials remain determined.

"We are not stopping what we are doing," Hannan said. "The purpose (of the survey) is to get the community's attitude of what they would like to see in that entire section. Whether the mill stays with the owner and it does or does not do something or a new owner comes in, we will have the desires of what the community wants down there."

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