City officials to develop master revitalization plan in next few months

City of Banks leaders are launching plans to revitalize the city’s downtown area by fixing existing snags, capitalizing on current assets and making way for future population growth.

Jay Renkens of MIG, Inc., a California-based planning and management firm, presented a final report on proposed Banks Main Street revitalization efforts during

a city council work session Jan. 28.

The plan germinated last fall with a community workshop, which — along with MIG’s report — was funded by an Oregon Transportation and Growth Management grant.

The report identifies strengths and weaknesses in the city’s downtown area and includes immediate and long-term suggestions to achieve leaders’ future goals.

After talking with councilors, city officials and community members, MIG came up with a list of the city’s assets: parks and green spaces; the fire station and its community space; schools located in the heart of downtown; historic homes and commercial buildings; the historic brick school district office and City Hall; locally-owned shops and restaurants; Jim’s Thriftway; easy walking down Main Street; through-traffic on Highway 47; and new LED street lights.

Problems with Main Street were also identified: drivers speeding through town; maintance and growth issues with Main Street’s trees; traffic during school pick-up and drop-off times; lack of sufficient benches, signage, trash cans, pedestrian-scaled lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, parking, lodging, restaurants, shopping options and a central gathering space; a disconnect between the shops at the north and south ends of town; and a poor connection between Main Street and the Banks-Vernonia trailhead.

Goals MIG identified that the city can start working on immediately include:

n Identifying a funding source to conduct a speed study and a parking study;

n Select crosswalk locations;

n Surveying Banks-Vernonia Trail users to determine their interest in local dining and shopping;

n Developing a committee to organize historic walking tours and work with property owners;

n Developing a plan to create a uniform look and feel along Main Street that focus on pedestrian-friendly design, and design standards for commercial and residential space;

n Developing a plan for signage; and

n Identifying what it will take to create a future Banks Plaza, where community events such as farmers markets, tree lighting ceremonies and concerts can be held.

Long-term goals include:

n Adoption, implantation and continued revision of the beautification plan; and

n Construction of the westside circulator road that parallels Main Street with planned access at Cedar

Canyon Road, Wilkes Street and the perimeter of Sunset Park.

Contract Publishing

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