If you've been to any Wilsonville community event this summer then you've more than likely heard that the City is reconfiguring its Town Center Master Plan. The planning process has been hard to miss, considering City staff and volunteer Town Center Master Planning Task Force members have been at seemingly every community gathering in the past couple months.
It's all been part of an effort to gather as much community input and feedback as possible before Wilsonville staff and Town Center consultants MIG Inc., DKS Consulting Group and Leland Consulting Group form a completed draft of the new master plan.
"We've tried really hard this summer to get input from the community and I think we've done a really good job," says Long-range Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell. "Being at events and in the community, I think that we've reached a much broader cross-section of the city than we have for any project we've done since I've been in Wilsonville."
Wilsonville is updating the Town Center Master Plan for the first time since 1978. After consulting with residents, staff settled on a vision statement in May that calls for Town Center serving as the hub and heart of Wilsonville — and then proceeded with an open house June 26 to start the design process. They only had a handful of residents show up to that first open house, but staff has gathered feedback at multiple community events since then. Bateschell says Wilsonville has also received a good number of responses to their online Town Center survey, which wrapped up Monday, Aug. 21.
"We started off with the kickoff event in June at Clackamas Community College but we also did three trivia nights in addition to a number of city-wide events," she says. "We had either staff or task force members at Fun in the Park, the (Kiwanis) Fun Run, Brewfest, all the summer Rotary concerts and a number of other neighborhood community events. We've been in the classrooms of our schools and all over social media, too, trying to spread word as best we can."
And the project planning team received its largest amount of input during Wilsonville's most recent community event — the city-wide block party. Staff had multiple booths set up all over Town Center Park, including iPads for residents to take the online survey, a giant chalkboard to write down ideas and a 10-foot by 10-foot aerial map of Town Center where residents could make notes. The "big map" was a particular hit, according to staff.
"Town Center is about 100 acres so this map really gives people an idea of what the space looks like," says Planning Director Chris Neamtzu. "The idea is that you just take a sticky note and give us your idea — anything you love, anything you'd like to see — and put it on an area you think it should go in Town Center. There are some creative ideas like a petting zoo, and even SeaWorld, and lots of notes about pools and water activities. This gives us a chance to see what people want, a chance to talk about companies, food, amenities that you'd like to see, or things that you just can't stand as well."
City staff have also routinely posted "Questions of the Week" related to the Town Center Master Plan to get thoughts on specific aspects of planning, and there's an ongoing Instagram contest where residents can post pictures of themselves in Town Center for the chance to win a prize. In addition to amenities and types of businesses residents would prefer, staff is also curious about the community's design preferences and thoughts on Town Center transportation.
"How could we mix things like bicyclists, parking, roads and buildings together and place them so that they are the appropriate places to really create the dynamic and lively town center?" Bateschell says. "People have probably noticed that there have been a ton of events in the parks in the last 3-4 weeks, and a lot happens with the fountains in the summer, but we've heard that Town Center doesn't have the same community affect and level of activity when we get into the rainier months."
While the project team has collected piles and piles of information in the past couple months, making sense of it all will be a different animal all together. Feedback exists in a variety of forms, and Bateschell says it will be no easy task combining everything into a master plan. Staff has documented everything they've gathered, whether it's in photos or data spreadsheets, but it will be up to the project team of city staff, consultants and task force members to make sense of it all.
"Our online survey just wrapped up so we'll have a better sense of survey results when have a chance to take a look at that, but I'm happy with the cross-section of the community we were able to talk to. We will continue to go into schools this fall and talk with high schools, elementary schools and middle schools in the fall, but it will take us some time to process all of this because it is a lot," Bateschell says.
The project team has a work session planned in September and will continue processing feedback and constructing a master plan into the fall. Bateschell says there will be even more opportunities for public input in the near future, but the goal is to have a draft done by the late fall or early winter. Bateschell just hopes all of her staff's community outreach culminates in a plan Wilsonville is happy with.
"I had a lot of fun at the block party and the chance to see just how much this community cares about Town Center," she says. "I'm grateful people are taking the time to help us out with their feedback."