December 18, 2014
by Julia Havens
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Meet our RARE AmeriCorps Participant: Sean Reiss

Sean Reiss Resource Assistance for Rural Environments RARE AmeriCorps ProgramAbout Sean Reiss

Sean received his Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Philosophy for the University of Florida. After attaining his Bachelor’s degree, Sean held several positions that involved land-use policy and environmental and rural planning work as he worked on his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Now with RARE-Resource Assistance with Rural Environments, Sean hopes to enrich his professional experience and improve his skills so that he can advance his career. After his year with the RARE AmeriCorps program, Sean hopes to use his degree and experience to make a difference in the world.

About RDI

Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) has been working to build capacity in Oregon’s rural communities for the past 30 years and is well positioned to put some of that capacity into practice through the realm of economic development. As a result, RDI is employing the national WealthWorks model in Oregon under the WealthWorks Northwest (WWNW) program. WWNW is a holistic approach to economic development that seeks to leverage existing and/or emerging community assets and sectors of the local economy to build community wealth via investments in all eight forms of capital: built, cultural, financial, individual, intellectual, natural, political, and social.

WWNW is broken up into two phases: 1) exploration phase (July-October), which the six WWNW communities will explore and develop a value chain, and 2) the construction phase (January-December 2016), where two of the six communities are selected to construct their value chain and begin the implementation process. Acting as Program Coordinator, Sean will assist with both phases, providing general project support, assisting with networking and convening value chain team members and stakeholders, providing research support and information dissemination, assisting with market demand interviews, and assisting with wealth capitals measurements and evaluation.

November 26, 2014
by Julia Havens
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Transportation: Survey aims to avoid bumps in road

The city is inviting Willamette Street businesses to be part of a study of whether a road redesign affects sales

 By Edward Russo
The Register-Guard
Email ed.russo@registerguard.com

NOV. 23, 2014

South Willamette Corridor Nick Meltzer Community Planning WorkshopIn an unusual request to south Eugene businesses, city officials want Willamette Street merchants to disclose their monthly sales.

The sales reporting is being sought as part of a controversial city test next year to determine how changing five blocks of Willamette Street to a bike-friendly design will ­affect ­traffic and businesses on the busy ­corridor.

Businesses would self-report their sales over 18 months to a city website, starting in January. The city would keep the information confidential and later have it analyzed by an economics consultant.

The city has hired the Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon to recruit businesses in the next two weeks. The effort began on Thursday with emails ­soliciting participants.

“The more businesses that we have, the more robust the data will be,” said Nick Meltzer of the Community Planning Workshop. “And the more robust the data, the better the economic model will be.”

Late next summer, the city will restripe the five-block segment to replace the existing four vehicle travel lanes with one vehicle travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and bicycle lanes on both sides of the street.

The city will test the design for 12 months to see how the configuration would work before possibly making permanent changes in a major repaving project in 2018. Willamette Street will be restriped between 24th Avenue to just south of the busy 29th Avenue intersection.

The test could start at the end of next August or September, said Chris Henry, the city’s transportation planning engineer.

The monthly reports will allow researchers to compare how businesses did in the six months before the test with how they fared in the 12 months of the test.

It would have been ideal to get business sales for the 12 months before the test, starting this fall, as well as the 12 months during the test, Henry said.

In that way, researchers could compare a year of business activity with the present street design to 12 months with the bike-friendly design.

However, the study was delayed until early next year, partly because the study’s $50,000 cost has to be approved by the City Council on Dec. 8, and officials had to wait to see if there is enough business participation to make the study worthwhile.

The business study is one of three Willamette Street test-related surveys by the city that are expected to cost a total of $150,000.

Some merchants who wanted to keep the current four travel lanes worry the new design will cause congestion and prompt motorists to avoid the area, thereby hurting business.

A city traffic consultant had predicted that 100 to 500 fewer vehicles a day would travel through the corridor under the bicycle-and-pedestrian-friendly designs compared with the present configuration.

“In retail, you want as many cars going by your business as possible,” said David Nelkin, owner of Eugene Coin and Jewelry near 24th Avenue and Willamette Street.

But Nelkin, a vocal opponent of the bike design, said he would be willing to report sales as long as they were kept private.

“Sure, why not?” he said.

Economics consultant EcoNorthwest will analyze the sales figures for the city to determine to what degree the new street configuration would affect commerce.

The sales reports made in the months leading up to the test and during the 12-month trial should answer whether the re-striping “leads to an increase, decrease or no change in sales to businesses along Willamette Street,” Henry said.

After two years of study, the council in a 5-4 vote approved the test of the bike-friendly design last May.

About 90 businesses are on the Willamette Street segment, including stores in the Woodfield Station shopping center at 29th Avenue and Willamette Street.

Other merchants located a block off Willamette within the stretch won’t be formally asked to participate, but they could report their sales if they want, Henry said.

It will be up to the business owners to report their sales honestly.

“This will be a trust relationship between the study participants and the study team,” said Matthew Kitchen, a senior policy analyst at EcoNorthwest.

It’s unclear how many of the 90 businesses would need to agree to participate for the city to proceed with the sales study.

However, Kitchen said he would want to have at least 30 to 45 businesses, and ideally more.

The bike-friendly design test will cost an estimated $900,000. About $750,000 of that amount will pay for installation of a permanent traffic signal for the Woodfield Station shopping center and other changes, such as a slight widening of Willamette Street near 24th Avenue.

These changes would have been needed for any of three proposed designs that were considered by city officials, including keeping the present four through travel lanes on Willamette.

The remaining $150,000 would be spent for three other test-related purposes. About $50,000 would pay to monitor traffic during the 12-month test. A combined $100,000 would be spent on the business sales study, including “intercept surveys” of shoppers, plus public opinion research to see what people think about driving, walking and biking on the new street configuration.

The recruitment of businesses began on Thursday with the emails sent to area businesses. On Friday, Meltzer said he was encouraged by the initial response. Six businesses quickly agreed to participate, he said. Another half-dozen responded with questions.

“We expect a lot more responses to come in over the weekend,” Meltzer said.

Meltzer is a 28-year-old civil engineer with a master’s degree in community and regional planning.

If merchants are reluctant to participate, Meltzer said, he would tell them the study is “an excellent example of a city responding to the concerns of business owners, and your support will help us better understand the issues surrounding south Willamette Street.”

The city will pay the UO $8,500 for the outreach work.

Two other business owners said they would file monthly sales reports if asked. “I don’t mind releasing the information if it’s confidential, but I don’t want it published in the paper and shared with my competitors,” said Al Sather, owner of Play It Again Sports near 27th Avenue and Willamette Street.

Metropol Bakery owner Donna McGuinness, who is skeptical of the bike-friendly design, said she would be glad to report sales if they are kept secret. “Any kind of information is useful,” she said. “I certainly think (city decisions) should be based on facts.”

WILLAMETTE STREET STUDY
For more information and to sign up for confidential business survey: http://www.eugene-or.gov/swillamettestreet
Email: Nick Meltzer at nmeltzer@uoregon.edu

Link to original article: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32440282-75/willamette-street-study-needs-merchants-cooperation.html.csp#

 

November 13, 2014
by Julia Havens
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Congratulations to Scarlett Philibosian!

Scarlett Philibosian Community Service Center CSCA recent graduate of the Community and Regional Planning Program, Scarlett was selected for a Compliance Analyst position with the City of Seattle, Washington. She will focus on shoreline habitat protection and code enforcement. In the coming year Scarlett will be involved in developing new policies to protect coastal areas within Seattle, including bringing house boats and floating homes into environmental compliance.

The Community Service Center wishes Scarlett the best on her new career path. We look forward to hearing more! 

[ Learn more ] about Scarlett and the various projects she worked on with the Community Planning Workshop while she pursued her Masters degree at the University of Oregon,

 

November 11, 2014
by Julia Havens
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Thank all veterans for dedicated and loyal service to our country

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The staff of the Community Service Center would like to thank all those who have served or are currently serving and protecting our country.  

Did you know? There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of our communities.

People often believe that Memorial Day and Veterans Day are celebrated for the same reason. There is however a subtle but important difference between the two. While both honor our military personnel, the former is a day to remember and pay respect to all the men and women that died serving our country in a war, while Veterans Day is to celebrate the soldiers who are still alive and served in the forces at anytime, during peace or war.

reprinted from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/veterans-day-facts