By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Downtown cleanup needs identified

Marcus Larson/News-RegisterClean up of awnings is one of many items on a report prepared for the McMinnville Downtown Association to target needs of the downtown business core.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Clean up of awnings is one of many items on a report prepared for the McMinnville Downtown Association to target needs of the downtown business core.

Three rounds of balloting saw McMinnville and Collierville, Tennessee, emerge as the two finalists, from an original field of 16. They squared off for the national title July 2.

The winner will get top billing on the Aug. 17 cover of the Sunday newspaper supplement, which boasts 54 million readers. The other 15 competitors will get lesser mentions.

McMinnville is also preparing for a little company coming in October. The city will be hosting this year's Oregon Main Street Conference, which is expected to draw about 250 main street managers, chamber executives, economic development officials, historic preservation activists and business and civic leaders from throughout the state.

Patti Webb, a former McMinnville Downtown Association manager now serving on the agency's design committee, recently walked Third Street with Corey Sanders of Sanders Enterprises to identify facades and awnings that could use a little TLC. Sanders prepared a report, complete with photos and recommendations.

Sollars said the walk-through represented an opportunity to look at the downtown core with a new set of eyes.

"When you really take that new eye, you can see the trash cans look kind of ratty," she said, citing one example that is getting immediate attenton. She said the 11 downtown cans have been removing for cleaning and powder-coating by Scott Morris of Yamhill's Morris Powder Coating.

The MDA is picking up the tab, held to about $3,000 because the city's public works staff is handling transportation and reinstallation.

Sollars said Sanders bid $17,000 for the work he and Webb identified. She said owners of properties with the most critical problems have already been contacted.

The MDA is prepared to devote $7,000 to providing owners with a 50 percent match on key projects. She said $3,800 comes from a reserve fund, $1,000 was donated by design committee member Patty Sorenson and the rest comes out of funds budgeted for design and economic improvement.

Sollars said Sanders needs commitments for 80 percent of the work in order to get moving on the project at the bid amount. "It's very doable if we can get answers back from those property owners," she said.

Sollars said that in addition to private party projects, the association planned to power wash downtown kiosks and give them some paint touchup. She said downtown sidewalks will also be getting some attention — a joint venture between property owners and the city.

Public Works Superintendent David Renshaw said property owners need to identify needs and schedule the work themselves. He said the city would cover half of the cost.

Renshaw said the city had also identified four trees that need to come down. He said it would remove the problem trees, replace them with new trees and undertake any sidewalk damage identified in the process.

"In the downtown situation, most established trees are 30-plus years old," he said. "Normally, what we're seeing is old age. The trees are ending their lifespan."

Renshaw said the downtown core is a tough setting for the trees, and some just don't grow well. He said it's important to foster age diversity anyway, he said, so trees don't all have to be replaced simultaneously.

Just prior to the Main Street Conference, Sollars said, the McMinnville Garden Club members and Delphian School students have agreed to do some final polishing.

"It's a way of saying we're happy you're here," she said. "It's like cleaning the house when guests come visit."

The recent push is designed to augment ongoing efforts taking place year around.

For example, members of the Mid-Valley Rehabilitation client staff pick up trash on a regular basis. They also water plants not hooked up to an automatic system.

The garden club conducts regular clean-up sessions as well. And RoseMarie Caughran, a member of the downtown design team, is invaluable in volunteering her assistance with clean-up and planting endeavors throughout the year.


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