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Nonprofit seeks public input on its downtown development

OFCO will build new facility on old Ron McDonald property
News Editor
   March 20, 2002 — The Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon, a nonprofit corporation that purchased a downtown city block in October, has announced it will host a series of meetings in early April to gather input on what Madras-area residents want to see on the property.
   The process, called a "charette," will feature six hourlong meetings over two days, with a meeting facilitator, landscape architect, and an architect and business mix analyst. On the third day, the team will present the results of the information gathered, including conceptual drawings of the building and streetscaping plus an analysis of the downtown business sector.
   OFCO has hired the Oregon Downtown Development Association to perform the charette with grant funding.
   OFCO has provided support services for people with disabilities in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties since 1965. The nonprofit will demolish the old Ron McDonald building and construct a new facility, which will house one or more businesses to provide jobs and job-training services for people with disabilities.
   But the new building also could provide other services, depending on what the community voices at the upcoming meetings.
   "We definitely have specific needs," said Rebecca Smith, OFCO resource developer. "But the point is there are things we can do for the community. This is in the downtown Madras community and you're working real hard to revitalize it so we want to compliment that effort."
   Smith said a portion of the property could be turned into a park.
   Parrish Van Wert, Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said the new facility will fit nicely within the urban renewal district.
   "This is a very extensive process," Van Wert said. "It's very detailed, and by the time it's done, OFCO will have a good idea of what people want to see downtown and hopefully the businesses will be right there with them, too."
   OFCO officials say 60 percent of adults in Jefferson County are unemployed. Their facility will be the first and only employment program center located in the county for disabled adults.
   The entire project will cost an estimated $2 million. It will include the cleaning of what has been declared a "brownfield," or environmentally contaminated site.
   The charette process, an $18,000 project, is broken into meetings each geared toward a specific group.
   On April 2, OFCO will host a meeting for local government officials and public service employees from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Madras Fire Station. From 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., a meeting for school personnel will be held at the same location. Any Jefferson County resident is invited to attend a 6:30 meeting at the library annex building.
   On April 3, three more meetings will be held at the Madras Fire Station. County business owners are invited to attend the day's first meeting from 8 to 9 a.m. Any community member may attend the second meeting, from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m., and the final meeting will host nonprofit and civic groups from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
   The final presentation will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on April 4 at the Madras Fire Station. All are welcome.