From the editor

The Dalles city council on Monday, Oct. 14, will hear a report generated by a grant-funded “visioning exercise” for the downtown area.

As part of that study, individuals representing five identified stakeholder groups were invited to participate in discussions focused primarily on two broad questions; what’s working with downtown now and what needs to change?

Comments were compiled on a variety of topics, and coded to show how many of the five stakeholder groups raised the topic: comments in italics were heard from two groups, those in bold type three groups, and those in red were raised by four or more groups.

Virtually every focus group agreed that in regards to public space, downtown needs to:

Increase green, healthy, large trees, for greenery and shade.

Increase beauty and public art.

Create more outside public space.

Increase downtown housing.

In addition, downtown properties need to increase available housing and add a grocery store.

In terms of social environment, the city needs to “merge the old and the new.”

Three out of five focus groups expressed a need for the city to slow down vehicles speeds through the downtown corridor, using “calming measures,” and find ways to buffer pedestrians from vehicles. Increased family activities were needed, and the challenges of re-purposing historic buildings was mentioned.

There were many other thoughts expressed and suggestions made, and the study used a number of methods to gather input.

Based on input received from the meetings, four vision statements were drafted:

• Built from a history of trade and rural hard work, The Dalles Downtown embraces the past and welcomes a future of new people and ideas.

• Residents and visitors appreciate the scenic vistas, historic buildings, growing retail establishments, vibrant community events, and expanding recreation and performing arts opportunities.

• In the future, shaded sidewalks with greenery, outside gathering spaces for family events and performances, and public art will enhance the downtown experience.

• A place to live  affordably, buy food, walk and bike safely, use a wheelchair, access transit, and breathe clean air are essentials for the growing community of The Dalles.

Having read quite a lot of the “supporting documents,” I can say whoever condensed them into the simple, straightforward statements above was something of a genius.

It’s a fine report, and pinpoints some of the joys--and trials--of life and work downtown The Dalles.

Like many fine reports, it does run the risk of joining the files of endless bureaucracy lodged in the archives of oblivion. A great many fine reports can be found there.

But by focusing on common ground, clearly stating needs and painting a strong picture of a successful future, the report does suggests that with the adoption of a common vision, there are many willing hands and minds capable of working for a better future and experience in downtown The Dalles.

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