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Visions for downtown Troutdale come alive

Intimacy, small business and a reconnection to nature and water are big themes for Troutdale residents and business owners


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - A packed room of residents, business owners and city officials draw what theyd like to see in downtown Troutdale.“I heard there was a visioning workshop today,” Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust said as he showed up at the event wearing giant green clown glasses after his wife dared him to do it.

“Vision comes in a lot of different forms,” he said. “The council can have a vision, and each one of us can have a vision of what we want Troutdale to be like.”

With hopes of stimulating some thought for the future of the Marino block, still in its demolition stage, the Troutdale City Council invited residents, downtown business owners and stakeholders to a free “visioning” workshop Thursday evening at the new police station.

“All we need is your creativity and your drawing skills,” said Troutdale City Manager Craig Ward.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Jodi and Terry Smoke can't wait for a new view across the street from the Troutdale General Store, one that mimics their own with new shops and services.About 30 people sat down to find sheets of blank white paper and a bag of colored Sharpies on the tables in front of them.

Leading the gathering on their vision quest was Jim Waddell, retired civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency, promoter of the workshop.

The gathering included downtown artists Ali Peret and Rip Caswell, Troutdale General Store owners Terry and Jodi Smoke, and the Handys representing the Troutdale Historical Society as well as local cooks, brokers, school teachers, civil engineers, city planners and councilmen, and Bremik developers.

After sharing a PowerPoint presentation on the definition of a vision (a mental image of your future), and its power to take shape as a deepest expression of what we want in life, Waddell asked people to use the tools provided to draw their vision for downtown Troutdale.

“Draw with color and no words,” Waddell said.

“I wish I could draw,” said Pat Hanlin, a Wilsonville resident and Marino block investor.

“I feel like I’m in kindergarten again,” said Frank Windust Jr., a Troutdale family broker.

“I swear I am a much better sculptor,” said Caswell, the artist owner of Caswell’s Gallery.

After about 10 minutes of color time, Waddell asked people to stand up and share their drawn visions with the rest of the group. Utopic visions of Troutdale filled the room: the intimacy of a European landscape with walkways that wind up from a bustling Cannon Beach-style main street; the sloped hills of Second Street, carved with quiet alleyways; townhouses and beautiful views of the Gorge.

Caswell suggested an arts district at the east end of town, where artists live and work and visitors tour.

In place of Handy’s Garage, Daoust drew a picture of coffee, flower and donut shops with colorful, gabled roof lines.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Mayor Doug Daoust draws images of coffee, flowers and donut shops to replace Handys old garage.For the Marino block, Jodi Smoke pictured a mirrored vision of the north side’s shops and services.

The Handys wanted to preserve significant historical buildings downtown, such as the old cafe and the old city hall.

“Close Dora Street and widen Mayor Square,” Ward said, and the group applauded.

“Townhouses, I want to build more,” said Windust, who built the RiverPlace townhouses behind the old City Hall.

Connecting people, history and nature

A cupcake shop and a movie theater was another suggestion, as well as quaint family restaurants with tables and chairs outside their doors.

Flowers and trees lining both sides of a close-knit highway free of cars and handicapped-friendly.

A larger plaza and amphitheater for gathering, music and events, and a play area for kids.

An organic food grocer, a book store, a bike shop and public bathrooms.

An arts center for high school students.

Future light rail and a passenger train stop in Troutdale.

After everyone presented his or her ideas, Waddell’s assistant made copies of the drawings, scaled them to a smaller size and laid them out on a table for people to see.

Waddell then asked people to connect their visions with others.

An idea that connected everybody’s ideas was more pedestrian/bike paths and trails that branch out from Main Street to residential areas, the outlet stores, Marine Drive, the Sandy River, McMenamins Edgefield and the rest of the Troutdale.

The most important part of the vision process, Waddell said, is action.

Each person named one action they would take to help bring the community vision into being.

Windust said he would try to change downtown zoning restrictions from residential to multi-family housing “to get more people living downtown.”

His younger sister, Patricia Morron, said she would hunt for good trail destinations.

Brent Perry, a Bremik developer for the Marino block, reminded folks about funding, and that it is needed to make sure the project gets finished. “We all need to get behind it,” he said.

Waddell, who has completed vision workshops for more than 50 communities and tribes, will work with an artist to create six or seven renderings of the community’s vision for downtown Troutdale, which he will bring back in large, laminated forms in five or six weeks.

“The art is meant to convey the vision, in the sense of chemistry, character and lifestyle, which gives it the kind of place you guys defined here,” Waddell said.

For this group, big themes were intimacy, quaintness, small business, livability, a reconnection to nature and water, a place visitors can appreciate, “building on what we already have” and most important, connected.

Work that remains on the Marino block includes cleaning up debris, grinding the leftover concrete and filling in the giant hole, said Hanlin, project investor, then leveling the entire block and removing the chain-link fence.

However, the developers are waiting on the demolition of the old police station, which has been bid to a different company, so they can recycle that concrete for additional filler for the hole.

“These are great,” Hanlin said of the workshop. “It makes everybody feel a part of the deal, but in the end, somebody’s got to do it.”



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