I Dream of Eugene

EW asked an assortment of community and socially involved folks to please tell us what they would dream of for Eugene. As we head into the New Year, what do people think we as a community should change, improve, build or renovate in our built and social environment?

This is part two. Be sure to see last week’s issue for the first set of dreams.

Courtney Stubbert, Eugene Contemporary Art

I’d like to see city growth that favors contemporary creative culture — either in the fine arts or creative professional industries. One that breaks from our cities historic ties to utopian, activist ideals. I think the political, pervasive mindsets I’ve grown up with in Eugene, both the progressive and the conservative, are a hindrance to growth. One favors a mediocre cultural output by way of labeling anything that is not “all-inclusive” as being intellectually elitist, and the other wants to build culture in the form of a collegiate, athletic spectacle. Businesses and organizations that don’t pander to either of these have to work extra hard to gain a foothold. As a result, opportunities and successes outside those ideologies are few and far between.

John Brown, Evans, Elder & Brown real estate, EWEB Board

Never having the mayor vote to break a tie on Eugene City Council votes.

Having the Willamette River be as clean as the McKenzie (above Weyerhaeuser).

No need for Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA).

Never having to clean up abandoned camps along our waterways.

Downtown Eugene being as safe as midtown Manhattan.

Cynthia Wooten, founder of Oregon Country Fair, Saturday Market, etc.

A planned corridor focused on walking, strolling, talking and eating between the EWEB Plaza and 7th and Willamette, much like the Highline Park in New York City.

A community or shared solar project with proactive participation from EWEB.

While petty, a design review process for food street vendors, i.e., Kesey Square (they look like crap), and regardless of taking away tables for eating because of encroachment of the generational-looking-for-an-alternative-to-it-all kids — put them back and occupy the space with a diversity of people.

Encourage and expand, license, designate and market space for our food truck society.

Acquire the Willamette Street Post Office building for Lane Historical Society and/or other nongovernmental agency, commercial, retail development. Look out for the Obie development to gobble up.

Officially designate the area around West Broadway and Charnelton Street the Eugene Arts District. Follow the model of city of Berkeley and other communities in fiscal assistance for renovations, relocations and ownership acquisition.

Appoint a working group to develop a plan that better utilizes the downtown Lane County “butterfly lot” for higher and better purposes. That would be in contradiction to the wishes of the Lane County Circuit Court judges who cherish their underground parking.

Convene a task force to develop plans for design, allocation and development for the use of bond money, already approved and on hold, for Farmers Market site development and other related projects.

Allow Opportunity Village to remain on a city site and to expand. Find additional sites for Opportunity Village to initiate new encampments. As with San Francisco, develop a mayor-appointed full-time position to be “homelessness czar” to develop short- and long-term plans and funding for continuum of homeless services; coordinate with all other agencies, public, non-profit and for-profit entities. The city and county cannot continue to do this on a crisis-to-crisis basis.

Create public parklets — two parking spaces that create new places to engage, eat, etc. See wkly.ws/1nq.

Expedite new Willamette Riverfront Development (with connecting corridor from EWEB building to downtown).

Focus on all tech companies in the area, highlight, nurture and promote; market much more aggressively to companies for expansion, particularly those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hire a liaison from the Bay Area with good connections in tech for contact and recruitment. In the past this was a frustrating and expensive undertaking, but now it is explosive and the timing is right.

Neighborhood organizations in Eugene are unique in that they are legal political subdivisions of the city of Eugene, with assigned authority. A resurgence of neighborhoods in the public life of Eugene must not just be encouraged, but incentivized for more active, inclusive, informed and consistent participation by residents.

Form a task force, including all cities and Lane County to develop a plan for implementing ranked voting or instant runoff voting.

Accelerate a plan for Franklin Boulevard between downtown and UO. That corridor has always been very unfortunate. It can be so much more than a “hamburger heights” segue between two destination points.

Shannon Finnell, EW features editor and reporter (staff pick 2)

The Eugene Public Library wins a multimillion-dollar grant. With all the budget talk of closing branches of the Eugene Public Library, we wish for a Eugene where the library is able to restore hours at all of its branches, add a branch in west Eugene and share with us all the books on its wish list.

Lane County Farmers Market grows and goes year-round. The crowded outdoor aisles of the Lane County Farmers Market are SO worth it. Picking out fresh produce and staying connected to local farms is the very foundation of healing the U.S. culture’s broken relationship with food, and the farmers market makes it fun. The so-called “butterfly lot” is ripe for the picking.

Mexican food on every corner. We love ALL the Mexican food, from oh-so-Americanized Tex-Mex to Maya-descended sustenance from the Yucatán. Let’s face it: Each region deserves a restaurant or two in town to showcase the amazing variety of the different cultural and climatic regions of Mexico.

Kevin Matthews, former Southeast Neighbors board president, current Lane County Commission candidate

I dream of Eugene at the heart of a new kind of Lane County, where a thriving local economy works in concert with the bold spirit of our rural and urban communities, and with all the beautiful nature that still surrounds us.

Take the billion or so dollars that we spend on fossil fuel every year in Lane County. By increasing energy efficiency in several sectors, we can shift millions from outside spending back into our local economy. Part of the savings can pay for skilled jobs to create additional efficiency.

Take our growing local food movement. We can organize small farmers, cooperatives and local entrepreneurs, with warm community support, to build strong small grocery stores in places like Churchill, Creswell and Pleasant Hill, where they are going or gone. We can keep these villages resilient and vital.

Take the over-harvesting of timber on public and industrial forest. We can reform the timber sale process to let in small contractors, widen the use of Forest Stewardship Council certification and sell harvested logs openly through a public sorting yard, to raise more funds with more jobs, while logging less overall. I dream of a local timber industry that is truly sustainable and that we can all be proud of.

Most of us in Lane County share a common love of this amazing place, from snowy mountains to turf and sea. Building on what we share, I dream that we will do better together, by working better together.

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