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City's main entryways get extra scrutiny

A task force addresses blight, aesthetics and tiny homes

By Cindy Yingst, Friday, July 6, 2018

Code enforcement should be the top priority if the city ever wants to be more attractive, a task force told city commissioners Tuesday night.

“It’s beautification of the community we’re talking about,” said Paul Mitchell, who also serves on both the city’s Planning Commission and Finance Committee.

He and other members of the Downtown & Thoroughfare Aesthetic Task Force gave their final report after six months of studying ways to make the city better.

“None of this can happen without code enforcement,” Mitchell said.

Warrenton should adopt a theme for future development that could encompass recreation, fishing or logging. “We are the perfect type of city for that to happen,” he said.

Piecemeal development is the enemy.

“Eventually we’re not going to have a very pretty community to look at,” he said.

The task force pinpointed several areas of concern:

** Nuisance Code standards and ways to deal with derelict and vacant buildings.

** Design standards on the city’s major roads: Main Avenue, the Marlin-Dolphin-Highway 101 corridors, Harbor Drive, Pacific Drive in Hammond and the 104 Spur also known as Alternate Highway 101.

** Standards for tiny homes, which are not addressed in the city’s building codes, and determining a place for possible tiny communities.

In addition to Mitchell, the task force was comprised of City Commissioner Rick Newton, at-large member Lylla Gaebel, and ministorage owner Dan Jackson.

Harbor Drive Corridor

A plan should be written that identifies the corridor boundaries and determines the feasibility for commercial and mixed-use development. Until that happens, the city should adopt design and development standards for new buildings.

Downtown

Five items that are in progress will improve conditions along Main Avenue in the business district: wider sidewalks, street lights and more trees; more signs and better connections to adjacent trails; more parks and open spaces; creating a gateway at the four-way stop; and commissioning public art or a fountain.

Long-term goals are to place overhead utilities underground, develop a parking plan, devise a waterfront development plan and construct a pedestrian bridge across the Skipanon River.

Hammond

Plans already are in the works for expansion of the marina, but additional improvements would come through encouragement of mixed-use development along Pacific Drive with appropriate small-scale tourist facilities.

The old city hall should be revitalized for public use as a museum or community center.

City Commissioners set a work session within the next 90 days when they’ll meet with the Aesthetics task force and the Hammond Marina Task Force to hammer out ways to put the suggestions into action.

“A lot of thought and energy was put into this,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said. “We’re at a critical moment and juncture in the city … and need to create a vision and enforce that vision.”

Improving the way the city looks is a top goal for the commission in 2018-19.


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