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City offers opportunities for meaningful involvement

Want to make a lasting mark on life in McMinnville? Consider volunteering for one of three advisory committees the city is creating.

The city is looking for input from people with a diverse array of life experience, circumstance and perspective.

You need not be a dedicated government activist or municipal planning nerd. You don’t even need a college degree or own your own home. You just have to display a “willingness to have thoughtful, informed dialogs about McMinnville’s opportunities and constraints, and the passion to participate in planning McMinnville’s future,” according to Planning Director Heather Richards.

One panel will be charged with developing a buildable lands inventory, conducting a housing needs analysis and drafting a proposed housing strategy. Members will be working in partnership with the city’s professional planning staff, so the assignment isn’t necessarily as daunting as it might first seem.

The projected time investment is about two hours a month for a year.

Another panel will be asked to develop an inventory of “great neighborhood principles” — the kind that distinguish truly great neighborhoods from the merely good. The ultimate goal is to make every McMinnville neighborhood great in its own right, or as close as possible.

This one is expected to require one two-hour meeting a month for six months.

Finally, the city is looking to create a panel to study the Three Mile Lane Corridor, running from Olde Stone Village on the east to the Three Mile Lane bridge on the west. It will be evaluating highest and best uses for some of the largest blocks of undeveloped land remaining within the current confines of the urban growth boundary.

Richards said, “This will be a hands-on mapping exercise for those who want to dive into the details.” She said it would require two-hour meetings on a monthly basis for about 12 months.

Virtually every resident of our community could set aside two hours a month for this kind of egalitarian engagement. All it takes is the will.

The committees are part of a long-range strategic planning initiative dubbed Mac-Town 2032. A community survey was advertised in February to collect responses. That was followed by a series of focus group meetings earlier this year setting the stage for the upcoming committee work. A Project Leadership Team will guide the process. Simultaneously, local business groups and leaders are formulating an economic development strategy also under the Mac-Town 2032 umbrella.

We applaud the city for its long, distinguished record of community involvement, out of which this ambitious multi-tiered endeavor emerges. Localities thrive when citizen engagement is considered an asset, not an afterthought.

Perhaps the county takes notice of the commitment of its municipalities to anticipate future problems by involving citizens. Calls for citizen-driven long-range planning has been stubbornly ignored up to this point.

As we see it, McMinnville is on the right track. We urge interested residents to get on board.

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