CRESWELL – The City Council did plenty of heavy lifting at its final meeting of 2020, unanimously approving several items, including:
χ An updated downtown development plan
χ A land swap with the South Lane Fire District
χ Fewer restrictions on the amount of money Creswell First! can distribute to organizations
χ City manager Michelle Amberg’s annual performance review.
The council, which includes a vacant seat and council president Amy Knudsen serving as interim mayor, dove into a presentation by city planner Maddie Phillips to “refine the downtown commercial zone,” including street and sidewalk design, and way-finding signage. “We have made incredible strides,” she said.
The initiative started in earnest only two years ago, Phillips said, and the City better understands “the challenges and opportunities of our downtown commercial district.”
With input from business owners and other stakeholders, she said the plan updates the City’s goals, which “form our plan and create a direction for the city to move in.”
Phillips stressed the importance of “policy and code” to help create an environment for businesses, and business development, to succeed. It will take a “triangulated approach” for streets, sidewalks, and businesses to coordinate effectively.
“Nothing happens in a vacuum,” she said at the meeting. “There are a variety of ways this plan addresses concerns around the attractiveness of buildings and public spaces. It ties in work around the parks plans.” And, Phillips said, it’s compatible with land-use policy.
“I’m eager to see what awaits our downtown future,” Knudsen said.
The land swap with SLFD was discussed throughout 2019, and gives the fire department the land where the City’s recreation center is at 99 S. 1st St. In return, the City receives the site where the current fire department sits. Amberg said SLFD leaders will seek to renew their levy, and hope to add updates to the Cottage Grove station at the same time. Ultimately, the fire district plans to build an expanded fire station in Creswell where the city’s recreation center sits now.
Another potential benefit of the swap, Amberg said, is that the City could create a drive-through for residents and customers.
Creswell First!, which manages non-profit funding on hehalf of the City, will be allowed to award more than the current maximum of $2,500 to a single organization.
Councilors presented documented examples of Amberg’s performance during her annual review. She was specifically noted for her work to support local businesses during the pandemic, acquiring grant money and facilitating loans.
Knudsen mentioned the redevelopment around the Creswell 76 station, renovation of the former Super 8 motel, enhancements to Garden Lake Park and other recreational areas.
Councilor Alonzo Costilla referenced Amberg’s efforts around the Fourth of July and Christmas Lights events. “An A for creativity,” he said. Several councilors noted Amberg’s efforts to drive community experiences in the absence of Creswell’s Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m thankful for the support, especially during my knee surgery and recovery in September and October. I appreciate the kind words and the constructive feedback.”
While the city manager suggested council forego a merit increase for her this year, it decided on a $2,000 bonus.