Re: Density, growth to change Milwaukies character?
- Pat Russell
- Clackamas Review - Opinion
Ed Zumwalt raises very good points about the effect of regional policies and transportation 'needs' (translate: what elected officials think we want when funding is dangled before our eyes like candy).
I happen to be very pro-light rail and TOD. However, as an urban and environmental planner and citizen activist, I recognize the need for each community to be unique and stay that way despite our regional growth pressures. I think TOD (Transit oriented design)concepts/principles CAN apply to Milwaukie in various areas of the city, not just 'downtown' as Ed geographically described. I suspect the REAL downtown is the Albertson's Milwaukie Marketplace. I just count the cars--they pretty well tell me where all the citizens are in that sprawling parking lot (where I don't see a lot of citizens frolicking, other than trying to get from their car door to the store's door).
However, with infill projects happening in Ed's 'downtown' he is witnessing TOD (just without the light rail). The recent housing project next to the Library is a good example of pedestrian TOD that still provides a reasonable parking arrangement. It measures up to the mystical Orenco Station, to which Ed refers. By the way, Orenco, to my knowledge doesn't have a library, bowling alley, pizza hangout, city hall, schools and parks and a highly rated (regionally significantly creek: Kellogg Creek and Johnson Creek - and the springs).
The latest developer concepts for the Metro/city block to the south is also promising and the property is definitely too valuable and visually prominent to feature a highly visible parking lot. However, the project will provide the necessary parking in a structured manner. It should help frame in the waterfront park (again, think about community civic spaces being framed with high quality pedestrian scaled architecture and amenities--public gathering plazas, passages, reflective corners, etc.
There are still a number of properties that could redevelop quickly in the near future and much of the individual owner decision on land use concept, density, architecture, livability and community acceptance will depend upon the community input and the owner's anticipation of financial feasibility and the adequacy and nature of community facilities. We are seeing that individual projects are coming into the community as substantial investments, usually increasing the value of properties in the immediate subarea. Most of these investors/property owners KNOW and RESPECT the strong comunity spirit, opinions and expectations.
There will be many new buildings and improvements in the 'close-in area' of the city (close in meaning everything between the new Safeway Center, the hospital, The Lake Road interchange with the Milwaukie Expressway to Kellogg Creek and the Willamette River and north to the new bike/ped overcross (over McLoughlin Blvd.). Many older homes and non-residential structures will be remodeled and updated. The city's industrial sanctuary north of downtown will continue to evolve into higher-value uses and more substantial building improvements as capital flows into the area. Many funky things in the community (who would determine what fits that definition) will be considered for demolition in favor of more upbeat, more interesting and pleasing architecture and land use.
Often, we cannot predict how those changes will occur, but they will. It doesn't have to be topsy-turvy, unless there is money to be made, influence beyond the control of the residents and leaders of the community. I don't think that will happen unless all the community activist leave town.
There are many good things about Orenco Station and things I wouldn't like either. I also feel that citizens like Ed Zumwalt should also help us visualize his view of the future, so that there can be real dialogue beyond angst, frustion and opposition, as change presents itself. The future will bring change to Maywood and we can be sure that it won't just go away like 'Green Tomatoes' - neither would we want it to.
Do more charattes and 'visioning.' If the Board of County Commissioners can talk about visioning and commit to fluffing it up into more concrete ideas and strategies, so can our Milwaukie community. I don't live within city proper but there about 5,000 residents in my unincorporated neighborhood who use Milwaukie's address. Milwaukie is one of our best kept secrets.