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Cultural district looks for winter progress

NCD news — Summer event season nearing close, time for board to evaluate potential improvements

With the summer season ending, it’s time for the Newberg Cultural District board of directors to reflect and recommend improvements. Among ongoing projects, Chairwoman Leah Griffith said there are a few less ambitious ideas in the works.

“I think it’s really going to grow into a fun community space,” Griffith said. “Our next part of the design (aside from installing wayfinding) is looking at putting some furniture in that kind of blends the whole area together.”

The area refers to the forecourt in front of the Che­halem Cul­tural Center, which has become the main stage of the cultural district. The space was utilized this summer for the Newberg Farmers Market and Tunes on Tuesday, both of which Griffith said were successful in the new space. Since moving the events to the space, parking issues have begun to resolve as well.

“Tunes happens right when people are coming home from work. There are still some areas we need to work on, we’re talking about some more solutions to that,” she said. “I’ve committed to serve on the Tunes committee next year to help accomplish that. I want to make sure we acknowledge the concerns of the neighbors but also work with this event that’s beloved by many people in the community. We want to make sure we balance the needs out there.”

Although she said from last year to this year, just moving the event has drastically reduced parking issues.

“It used to be the entire area from Hancock all the way up to at least past Franklin was totally inundated with cars, we’re talking 20 blocks or more affected by Tunes,” Griffith said. “Now it’s maybe six blocks that really are seeing the entire street covered with cars. We really feel like we’ve made a lot of progress.”

In the interest of progress, she’s also looking at implementing times parking spots in front of the library.

“We’re talking with the Traffic Safety Commission to see what the possibility would be to have two or maybe three hour parking to keep the turnover going,” she said of the 15 spaces in front of the library. “People aren’t usually in the library for more than two hours. We’ve noticed we’ve had some people who have parked there all day. They are obviously working downtown or maybe at the cultural district teaching. We’re just looking at how we can help the community who’s using the library be able to have access to those spaces while still letting them be there as long as they need to be there.”

Griffith said the board is still working with the city for a blanket ordinance that would allow them to close a portion of Sheridan Street as needed rather than needing to get a permit each time. She said she expects to meet with the city attorney this winter to resolve that.

“I think Camellia Festival will be the first one we want to make sure everything is set for,” she said.

They are also looking at installing bike parking spaces in the district.

“There are a couple of spots that just look like they’re waiting for bike parking spaces to go,” Griffith said.

But all of this progress still relies on funding, which she said is always an ongoing project.

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