Well Peopled Streets - Here?

Posted in: NE Hazel Dell
I just attended the "Growing Smart" Conference at Clark College on February 20; and came away inpired that it IS possibility to design streets and business areas to be more people friendly. One of the buzzwords at the conference was "well-peopled streets". Communuities throughout the world that have streets designed to encourage foot traffice and person-to-person interaction are healthier communities. They have lower crime rates and genreate healthy commerce.

There are ways to encourage or create that right here in the "strip land" of Hazel Dell. I came from Tualatin, OR - a very similar community in some ways; and still struggling to deal with rapid growth and shopping mall sprawl. The point is that they DID struggle with it and the struggle DID produce results. Tualatin now has a beautiful lake surrounded by a walking path and businesses that are accessed by foot. Also around the lake are condominiums and businesses with living space above for the owners. In the summer they have concerts and community activities on the plaza next to the lake. I'm a newcomer here - about 1-1/2 years - so I'm sure that many others have struggled with this issue here. I offer my support and wish to be a part of any discussion or effort to bring about the idea of a pedestrian friendly center (a place that people can identify with and generate happy memories around) somewhere in Hazel Dell.

Just start using that phrase "well peopled streets" and it will happen. We do see it once a year here. It's called the Hazel Dell Parade. What would it be like if we had somewhere in the community that was like that all year around? What other events could we create that would be designed to specifically call attention to the need to reclaim the streets for people?

By Lew Scholl
We have a ways to go

The Hazel Dell business district has been on the decline over the last decade or so even tho this County is one of the fastest growing in the Country. The reason for the decline is directly to your point--we don't have a people friendly business district. It was built to serve motorists not pedestrians. To turn that around will take a community-wide effort involving citizens, business owners and local government.

Recently the "99th Street Business Group" was formed by business and property owners along 99th Street from Columbia River HS to Gaiser Middle School. Their mission is to make that business area more inviting to passing motorists. Who knows, maybe they will plan a Saturday Market or other events to help draw people into the business strip. The next group meeting is March 17. Interested businesses can participate by calling Jon Guzie at 573-6604.

By Doug Ballou
Event Idea - Follow-up

I have a proposal for an event that will generate a new shared vision of what Highway 99 can be. Consider calling it the "Hazel Dell Visioning Walk" or "Highway 99 Discovery Day". This would be a walking event combined with a series of tent-based community visioning meetings. We would get as many people as possible to walk either part or all of the loop of Highway 99 and Hazel Dell Avenue from the Salmon Creek Park and Ride down to Minnehaha and back. Business leaders, developers, and property owners, along with environmental and community groups would be invited to meet in the tents and share their visions of how the area could be made more attractive for pedestrians. The tents would be set up in vacant lots along the way to create the atmosphere of outdoor pedestrian attractiveness. Urban planners with expertise in developing attractive business districts would give presentations, and people with a variety of different interests and visions could also give presentaions or just be available to discuss the possibilities they see for each area.

Call this "experiential visioning" or whatever you want. I have been part of a similar event that was carried out every year for a series of years, and watched it grow into a powerful organization for change. I was one of the founding members of the Tualatin Riverkeepers in Oregon, and was part of the loose ad-hock committee that started by putting on the annual "Tualatin River Discovery Day". This event made it possible for people to appreciate the obscure and muddy Tualatin that most people thought was disgustingly polluted. The group evolved into an organization that is a major key to preserving, enhancing, and appreciating the river and contributing to its cleanup.

I see some strong parallels here. Highway 99 is seen as one of the least attractive streets in the area. Most people would not even think of going for a walk down the entire length of the "99 strip" - for enjoyment - just as most people were revolted by the idea of canoeing on the polluted Tualatin when we first started "Discovery Day". Yet by joining in a group event to canoe the river, we gained access to it in places impossible for an individual or small canoe party. We also created a group vision of its preservation by having an environmental fair at the end of the canoe trip. Right here in Hazel Dell, we can likewise create an event that will "gain access" to pedestrian enjoyment of the "99 strip" and generate a shared vision of its possibilities. People who would otherwise never consider walking the "99 strip" will find that it can be a pleasant experience, and the community will begin to see it in a different light.

Please contact me if you are willing to help generate this shared vision.

By Lew Scholl
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