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St. Helens wins LOC award for waterfront campaign

City recognized for 'good governance' in seeking input on planned redevelopment

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ST. HELENS - From left to right, St. Helens City Council President Doug Morten, St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh, incoming League of Oregon Cities president and Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax, St. Helens City Councilor Susan Conn, and LOC Executive Director Mike McCauley at the league's annual meeting last weekend. Walsh accepted an award for 'good governance' on behalf of the city of St. Helens.The League of Oregon Cities bestowed an award on the city of St. Helens last weekend for its “What’s Your Waterfront?” community outreach effort, which asked residents this spring what they would like to see done with the brownfield property the city intends to purchase from Boise Cascade Co.

St. Helens received the Helen and Alan Berg Good Governance award — named for two former Corvallis mayors and LOC presidents — which the LOC said “honors city programs that connect citizens within a community,” at the league’s annual conference in Eugene. John Walsh, St. Helens’ administrator, was on hand to accept the award.

The “What’s Your Waterfront?” campaign centered around the May visit of a team of experts from the American Institute of Architects to evaluate the city’s waterfront project. Through a series of public meetings and workshops, the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) gathered public input on the city’s efforts to acquire and redevelop the land south of Old Town where Boise Cascade used to operate a veneer plant.

The team then made a public presentation outlining its recommendations for the St. Helens waterfront, including tourist attractions and amenities, a facade improvement project to create a more modern and cohesive-looking commercial area, and a civic park plaza to anchor the proposed new neighborhood.

“In reviewing the city’s submission, the awards judges were impressed with the innovative approach, the broad community involvement, and the inclusion of outside resources to assist,” a statement from the LOC announcing the award Monday, Sept. 29, read in part.

Walsh said Monday the city is “certainly honored and pleased to be recognized for the work we’re doing here on the waterfront.”

St. Helens and Boise Cascade inked a deal early this year, spelling out the city’s intent to purchase the waterfront property. The land sale is expected to be final by the end of the year.

The purpose of the “What’s Your Waterfront?” effort was “really to get citizens engaged with the process,” Walsh said. He also affirmed that the city’s work to figure out a “master plan” for the waterfront and solicit community input will continue.

“It’ll be an ongoing effort,” said Walsh.

Walsh was instrumental in lining up the SDAT visit with grant money. Only a handful of communities every year successfully apply to undergo the SDAT process, wherein the American Institute of Architects gathers a team of experts in design, engineering, economics and other disciplines from outside the community and has them assess one or more local projects.

St. Helens is expected to purchase the 22.1-acre Boise Cascade property at a price of $3 per square foot, which pencils out to about a $2.89 million transaction in total.

Another St. Helens project was recognized by a statewide group this week.

On Wednesday, Oregon Main Street gave the St. Helens Economic Development Corp. an Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Award in the category of “Best Creative Fundraiser.” The award was for SHEDCO’s efforts to raise money for an Independence Day fireworks display during a parade in June.

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