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Hillsboro officials share bigger, better downtown plans

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Along with city staff and administrative officials, dozens of residents, downtown business owners and even the citys Youth Advisory Council attended the Downtown Enhancement Open House to see what plans the city has in store for the downtown area, as well as a few others around town.After the city council voted to repeal a conversion of downtown Hillsboro’s one-way streets last October, a question lingered in the minds of many downtown residents and business owners whether the city would remain committed to other downtown revitalization projects.

On Tuesday, those concerns were soundly put to bed.

To help residents learn about city staff’s collective efforts to continue downtown revitalization, and to allow those residents an opportunity to share their own thoughts for how to make downtown Hillsboro even better, several city departments came together for a Downtown Enhancement Open House at the Civic Center.

With poster boards arranged around the one the of Civic Center’s conference rooms, staff members representing departments such as Public Works, Planning and Economic Development played host to dozens of people who have an interest in seeing what plans for the future are in the works.

“The broad reason for the open house is to share information and to continue downtown progression,” said City Manager Michael Brown, whose contract with the city was recently renewed for another three-year term.

“It’s meant to show the city’s continued momentum and to send a message to downtown business owners that we’ll continue to support downtown.”

Jim McNally, owner of McNally’s Taproom at 4thMain, was among the many downtown proprietors present at the open house.

“It’s phenomenal that the city hosts these events,” McNally said. “It’s a great opportunity for business owners to interact with city council members and department heads.”

While himself a huge advocate for the work of city staff, McNally still seeks input from the community at his “public house” to see what features or amenities they’d like to have in the downtown area, and, “more often than not, we’re educating our patrons to what the city is doing,” McNally said. HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - City of Hillsboro Communication and Marketing Manager Corinne Weiss, left,  discusses wayfinding and signage options with resident Debora Fetzer during the citys Downtown Enhancement Program Open House on Tuesday.

McNally added that he even goes so far as to encourage his customers to visit other downtown bars and businesses so they can find the place that’s just right for them.

Loosely modeling the atmosphere of his own taproom after the TV show “Cheers,” McNally said he simply wants Hillsboro residents to feel welcomed and at home at whatever place they choose — just so long as they’re patronizing some business downtown.

“Our role as a public house is to engage with customers beyond the service we’re offering them,” McNally said.

Debora Fetzer was one such resident to attend the open house.

A resident of numerous homes in various areas around the city for the past 23 years, Fetzer currently lives off 15th Avenue. And while she’s been to planning meetings for pedestrian and bike trails in the past, on Tuesday Fetzer wanted to see what downtown plans are currently brewing.

“I like it,” Fetzer said. “Whenever they’re proposing things in the city, I like to come in and offer feedback.”

And that’s just what Brown wants to hear.

“We’re going to make as many efforts as we can to have personal conversations with people,” Brown said. “With the two-way conversion behind us, we’re just trying to move forward.”

For more details on the city’s Downtown Enhancement Program, visit bit.ly/1Rl4Hkq.