Phoenix urban renewal seeks public comments

PHOENIX — Less than a year after Phoenix Urban Renewal Director Marla Cates opened shop in an office no bigger than a broom closet, she has new digs along Highway 99 and is hosting a three-day session to seek public comments on plans for the city core.

Hoping to learn from, and update, a city center plan created through a public process in 1997, Cates says citizens will get a chance to brainstorm a variety of options for improvements to the main drag along what now is a nondescript section of Highway 99.

The three-day series of meetings will take place today through Saturday, Jan. 28.

Cates said plans are to brainstorm ideas ranging from business access and pedestrian safety to transportation improvements in time to provide input to the state for a Highway 99 corridor plan.

John Stutesman of David Evans and Associates will facilitate the sessions for the city and also is working with the state to coordinate the Highway 99 study.

Specific topics could include keeping the city's one-way streets or changing them to two-way traffic, adding public areas and improving pedestrian safety and incorporating alternative transportation.

"The idea is for the public to learn about a city center plan urban renewal and share their ideas for the future of the city center," Cates says. "Because it had been so long since citizens participated in that planning process (in 1997), we decided last year to bring it back and refresh people's memories. So we want to hear what they have to say, whether they had participated before, known about it but not been included or even if it's brand-new information."

The Oregon 99 corridor study examines current and future uses from Garfield Street south of Medford to South Valley View Drive north of Ashland.

Councilwoman Karen Jones said the city had a unique opportunity to focus on plans for its own city center at the same time state transportation officials are evaluating regional transportation needs for the Highway 99 corridor.

"They did a city center plan quite some time ago but now it needs to be refined some more and we want to get everyone's input," Jones said. "This will really help us to get our ducks in a row and figure out what we want to do so we can coordinate that with the corridor study."

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