City's improvement program wins statewide praise, exposure at international level
The city of Sandy is setting an example for the rest of the state with its Facade Improvement Program.
This program recently received not only statewide recognition with an award but also international notice, said Planning Director Tracy Brown.
A feature-length article with photos, written by Brown and City Manager Scott Lazenby, was published in 'Public Management,' a journal of the International City/County Management Association, which is read by staff managers for cities and counties across the nation as well as in other countries.
Also, at the annual conference of Oregon Main Street, held recently in Baker City, Sandy's program was singled out and awarded as the state's best in its design.
That design - Brown has labeled it Sandy Style - matches the city's logo, which states Sandy is the 'Gateway to Mount Hood.' Sandy Style includes natural wood and stone and some forest green color, which reminds people of the area's natural resources.
Sheri Stuart, coordinator of Oregon Main Street, said the city of Sandy is leading the state in revitalizing the downtown atmosphere.
'We are pleased to recognize (Sandy),' she said, 'for its dedication and commitment to creating a vibrant community and growing Oregon's economy while preserving and enhancing its sense of place.'
Since the program's inception in 2009, Brown said 26 buildings have benefited - representing about $600,000 in total project costs. The number of empty storefronts has decreased, he said, and there have been no new vacancies.
'I think this program has given the downtown more of an identity, a cohesiveness,' Brown said. 'Some people may say we're making everything look the same, but I don't agree. People who have never been to Sandy tell me they like it, and I hear the same from people who've lived here quite a while.'
Nearly all of the design - including the initial Sandy Style - was accomplished by Architect Ralph Tahran of Portland.
Urban renewal funds are given as grants to local businesses in the downtown core to help pay for the costs of renovating storefronts using Sandy Style methods and materials. Some grants are small, Brown said, while others pay nearly all renovation costs.