Design time: Mount Angel residents invited to give input on downtown

July 2014 Posted in Community, News
Mount Angel Charrette
Saturday, July 26, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Mount Angel Fire Hall, 300 Monroe St.
Lunch is free. An RSVP would be
appreciated for planning purposes
to City Administrator Eileen Stein, or

By Molly Gunther

A German authority in Bavarian urban design, University of Oregon sustainable urban design students, art and architecture students from Poland’s Gdansk University, and local residents will have a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and create a vision for the future design of Mount Angel on July 26.

The city will host a design charrette – a planning and design workshop – iving citizens a chance to work closely with independent specialists to identify and prioritize the design values and issues in Mount Angel.

The charrette is a collaboration between the city of Mount Angel, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Residents, property owners and business representatives are encouraged to attend the free event at the Mount Angel Fire Hall, 300 Monroe St. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.  After introductions and a tour of downtown, the international exchange will begin via Skype at 11 a.m. The Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce will provide a free lunch, which will be followed by discussions on downtown revitalization, use of public space, Bavarian theme, tourism development, public art and programming.  Participants are welcome to attend all or part of the day’s activities.

Ric Stephens, an instructor with the University of Oregon Planning, Public Policy and Management Department, is coordinating the student and international research for the charrette.

Stephens’ international students, who specialize in art and architecture at Gdansk University of Technology in Poland, will share the results of their research about Mount Angel.

Stefan Netsch, a researcher, architect and urban planner in Germany, has joined the project as an authority on Bavarian urban design. The 11 a.m. teleconference will allow discussions with the Gdansk students and possibly Netsch.

Stephens’  “Green Cities” students have also been researching Mount Angel with a focus on the charrette topics. He said the Mount Angel experience is an opportunity for the students to gain real world experience in sustainable urban design and planning.

Mount Angel City Administrator Eileen Stein is encouraged by the benefits of the charrette’s hands-on process, which will include the physical act of drawing and designing the space.

“I hope the workshop brings out the creative side of people and encourages them to engage in their community more than a traditional development project,” Stein said.

Stein estimates if the city were to hire urban design and planning consultants on its own for this type of project, it would cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Instead, it is being organized and facilitated by DLCD and UO and to provide community development resources for small cities. With the chamber of commerce paying for the food, there is no cost for the city for any part of the day.

Mount Angel City Councilor and Chamber President Pete Wall said he thinks the event “can be a great benefit for the entire city as we are bringing in such a high level of creative people and experts in community design. We have done some similar projects in the past but this is such a high level of expertise.”

Wall said he hopes to get a good cross section of the community to participate and that the final product will give the city, the chamber, Oktoberfest and other associated groups, ideas that they can work on together to improve the overall attractiveness of Mount Angel.

At the Sept. 18 planning commission meeting, the city will receive a final report as a result of the community workshop activities combined with student research and related materials. The report will provide sustainable development recommendations.

Stein said the charrette experience and recommendations, combined with next year’s 50th anniversary of the Mount Angel Oktoberfest, provide an opportunity to galvanize around vision and design opportunities for downtown. The council and community can decide which ideas they want to implement.

Stephens “Green Cities” class last fall prepared a report of the city of Donald following a design charrette. Donald has already put some of the ideas into action, including the addition of murals at the local skate park.

Stephens said this charrette will be a success if his students and the city of Mount Angel get in the mood for change and discover “real things that a city can do to help the future in a positive way.”

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