North Bend city officials envision civic complex, skywalk
February 22, 2013
By Michele Mihalovich
North Bend city officials have a grand vision of what the city will look like in the future.
Its master plan, adopted in 2008, includes a two-story, two-building civic complex connected by a skywalk, possibly on the corner of Bendigo Boulevard and North Bend Way.
Chaplin’s North Bend Chevrolet, on the corner of North Bend Way and Ballarat Avenue, occupies a highly visible and central downtown location; but, if it were relocated to a site better suited for automotive sales, perhaps the former area could be redeveloped into mixed-use buildings with ground-level retail and upper-level office or residential.
Eastside Fire & Rescue’s current fire station, owned by the city, will become vacant when the new fire station is complete. If a new City Hall is built, that land could be put on the market and redeveloped into mixed-use buildings. The sale of the property could go toward funding the new City Hall.
Should the owners of the mobile home park on the corner of Bendigo Boulevard and Fourth Street ever decide to sell, perhaps that could be converted into public open space or maybe even affordable housing.
However, North Bend’s City Council and staff, who gathered for a Jan. 25 annual retreat at Boxley’s, ended up not having time to discuss those details because what was going to be a short, executive session to discuss potential litigation ended up lasting an hour and a half.
Discussing the Civic Center specifically was on the retreat agenda, but City Administrator Londi Lindell said the council decided to drop the item after the executive session, mainly because it’s already on the city’s master plan.
The downtown plaza project also figures into the future look and feel of North Bend, and Lindell told the council that city staff members have been feeling rushed to approve a design concept.
North Bend had received a $350,000 federal grant to improve the streetscape on North Bend Way from Bendigo to Ballarat, and the city will contribute another $350,000 to complete the project.
The project was scheduled to begin and end in 2013, but Lindell said, “Let’s do it right.”
The city will not lose the funding as long as it can show substantial work is being done on the project, and Lindell said the plaza is expected to be completed in 2014.
City Council members weren’t just focusing on a vision for the city, but were also looking at how everything could be connected, which is why they started focusing on how to spend park impact fees this year.
At the end of last year, the balance of park impact fees was $293,471, and $121,620 is projected this year, for $415,091 available for projects.
The council was asked to rank four possible projects: the Torguson Park master plan, which includes a trail from North Bend Way and circles around the park; coming up with a design concept for improving the entrance to William Taylor Park where the train depot is; constructing multiuse ball fields at Tollgate Farm; and securing the right of way along the abandoned section of Burlington Northern Railroad for a future trail extension.
The council overwhelmingly supported the Torguson Park trail and improvements to the park at the train depot, and encouraged staff members to look into grants that could help offset the costs.
Councilman Alan Gothelf said in addition to the depot park improvements, he’d like to see a temporary vendor area at the park for special occasions.
“It seems like a natural, and could generate some revenue for the city,” he said.
Gothelf also said it seems like a lot of people just get on and off the train and don’t even realize a park’s there, and improvements would hopefully change that.
Councilman Ross Loudenback said it would also be nice to have signage that would guide people from the train depot to the Torguson Park trails when they’re completed.
Councilman David Cook agreed that improvements to William Taylor Park would go hand in hand with downtown improvements.
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or email@example.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.