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The first phase of the Burnham Street project, including a splash pad, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard City Council representatives gathered Thursday to break ground on the new Universal Plaza. They include, from left, Tigard Youth City Councilor Aishiki Nag, Councilor Liz Newton, Mayor Jason Snider, Councilor John Goodhouse, Council President Heidi Lueb and Councilor Jeanette Shaw.  Universal Plaza's long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony took place Thursday evening, May 26, right before a late-spring downpour.

The first phase of the future plaza will contain a splash pad and water feature along with a public restroom, porch swings and a boardwalk connection to the Fanno Creek Trail.

"Universal Plaza is downtown Tigard's long-awaited community gathering spot that celebrates our shared humanity and our one shared planet," Tigard Mayor Jason Snider told those gathered for the event at 9100 Burnham St. in downtown Tigard. "It is truly inspiring to see so many people here who have provided their inspiration to this project from design advisors to downtown businesses and local artists."

Snider said the community space was 15 years in the making, with the idea "that downtown Tigard could have a special place where people of all ages could come together in the community."

A 2010 park bond levy included funding for the plaza, well before any of the major downtown improvements including trails, development organizations and public art existed, Snider said.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard Mayor Jason Snider addresses the crowd at Universal Plaza on Thursday.

The projected cost for first phase of Universal Plaza is $5.6 million. Money for the project comes from Tigard's urban renewal fund, as well as parks system development charges.

"People in Tigard have understood for a very long time, what downtown Tigard was meant to be — a destination, a place of pride for all of us who call Tigard home," said Snider. "You'll find universal qualities lovingly embedded in every detail here."

Those details will include intricate stonework and lights around the water feature along with natural elements that will be kept intact.

Also speaking during the event was Tigard High School junior Aishiki Nag, who currently serves as Tigard's youth city councilor.

Nag asked those present to consider the natural elements of the space. She said the plaza will act as a meeting place for many residents, and she reminded residents of the importance of Tigard's community resilience plan to tackle climate change.

"Every aspect of climate change is a battle that we all have to fight and it's important to know that this is a community fight," she said. "We all have to be aware of the choices we make and see how that might impact others."PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard Youth City Councilor Aishiki Nag talks to those gathered Thursday, May 26, about the importance of addressing climate change issues.

Numerous firms worked on the project, which encompasses about 1.8 acres. They include RIOS, the lead designer of the project, as well as Fluidity Design Consultants of Portland, which designed the splashpad. The boardwalk was designed by Alta Planning + Design.

A massive architectural canopy and a community picnic table are expected in the second phase of the project.


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