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Three cities begin planning Halsey's future


The future of Northeast Halsey Street has a lot of unknowns. Tentative talks envision the creation of a cohesive space, connecting Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale, leading up to the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge.

But it was only recently that phase one became a reality, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Metro Regional Government to begin the planning process.

In the next 12 months, the three cities need to work out agreements, set up workshops for residents to provide ideas and comments and select an oversight committee to help design the long-term future of what’s been named the Halsey Corridor.

Fairview planner Erika Palmer said she is working to find a consultant to act as project manager.

“Metro gave us an extra $12,000 for project management for this grant,” Palmer said. “I’m the only person in the planning department to manage this grant. That’s why they gave us the extra $12,000 when they realized it was just me.”

Once a consultant is in place, the real work can begin. An agreement between Fairview and Metro will likely be in front of the Fairview City Council for approval Jan. 20.

“From there, we’ll be developing an intergovernmental agreement between the three cities that lays the groundwork for who’s responsible for what, and who might be on the oversight committee,” Palmer said.

Dean Hurford, chairman of the Fairview Economic Development Advisory Committee, said he’s spent the last two years working to start the Halsey project.

“I think it’s exciting that all three cities are there. It’s just taken quite a while to bring us all to the same table,” Hurford said. “We’re not at the same table yet, but we’re really close.”

Selecting the committees will be a large step toward that goal.

“It’s hard for us to really narrow down a committee,” he said. “We’ve thought about the process of having an executive steering committee and then a committee at large, so a lot of people from the community can be involved. I think we’re all ready for something to start happening.”

The list of partners includes Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village, Metro, Multnomah County, the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce and maybe the Port of Portland. Organizing representatives could be an issue, Hurford said.

“We don’t want any one particular group to have an overwhelming input on this. It’s really our goal to have people that don’t have any really specific agenda,” Hurford said. “We want to look at this thing from 35,000 feet in the air and see what’s best for the corridor.”

Fairview Public Works director Allan Berry said the consultant will help look at the project as a single corridor and not as three separate cities.

“But we will have to be fleet of foot, so we don’t get bogged down,” he noted.

Berry said it’s important participants come in without preconceived notions. “We want you to come in with an open mind … That’s what makes this such a fun project.”

Hurford agreed time is of the essence, warning that if the project doesn’t pick up the pace, partners could lose interest and the project could stall.

“Conversely, if we attack this thing and we’re responsible and do a good thing, that creates a dream people can believe in, and you’ll never run out of money,” he said.

Metro’s grant should last about a year. But Berry and Palmer said they hope once a plan begins to form, more funding will become available.

Hurford thinks the key might be the private sector steering the conversation.

“I’m really hoping this executive steering committee is more privately driven than anything else,” he said. “I think we can hold ourselves to a higher-speed calendar. Nothing will happen without city council involvement or approval, but I think this executive committee can push really fast.”

He also wants the discussion to involve any “crazy idea.”

“What we’re trying to accomplish is no one be afraid to throw something out,” Hurford said. “A lot of silly ideas make sense.”

Palmer added this is really a long-term project, and will be a coordinated effort.

“It should be a fun 10 years,” Hurford added.

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