Imagine Concrete tackles playground, Lone Star Building, community garden

By Eric Archuletta
(posted 1.11.10)

Imagine what could be! That’s what last April’s “Imagine Concrete” community vision workshop was all about.

On April 18, 2009, the “Imagine Concrete” community vision workshop was held as a first step toward developing a community revitalization strategy. The future direction of the town and local area were discussed by members of the community.

A community vision is an essential part of the process of becoming a sustainable community. This step allows residents to look into the future, think creatively, and ask themselves what they want their community to be years in the future.

The “Imagine Concrete” community visioning was a process and a product. The process gave residents the opportunity to express what they value about their community and develop a consensus on what they would like to change or preserve. Such a process brought community members together in roundtable discussions to identify problems, evaluate changing conditions, and build collective approaches to improve the quality of life in the community.

The product of the visioning workshop were five identified initiative areas:

1. Create a Sustainable Community/Destination
2. Clean up Public and Private Areas
3. Historic Preservation
4. Economic Development: Promote and Support Local Businesses
5. Zoning and Planning

Within each initiative are numerous ideas that will help create, improve, restore and sustain Concrete. Preservation of historic buildings, restoring the Lone Star building, creating a community garden, cleaning up public and private properties, improving the business environment, high-speed Internet, adaptive reuse of buildings, fencing in the Silo Park play area, reinstating the town’s police force, and better maintaining the Sockeye Express are a few of the ideas community members envisioned during the workshop.

Around each initiative a task force has been formed to bring these ideas to fruition. Task forces already are busy working on projects in the community.

Community garden
The community garden committee is a subset of the Sustainable Community/Destination task force. It consists of Nicolette Thornton, Jim Hillman, and Jason Miller. The committee is discussing what the garden could contain. Topics of discussion include security, lighting, tool shed, compost area, and plot sizes.

On Dec. 10, members of the committee visited the proposed site, which runs along Main Street west of the Lone Star Building to Superior Avenue. The proposed site measures 269 feet long, with a depth of about 80 feet.

Lone Star Building preservation
Another subset of the Sustainable Community/Destination task force is the Lone Star committee. It consists of Lou Hillman, Beverly Richmond, and Alan and Carol Fabrick.
The committee is reviewing the 2006 Lone Star Building assessment conducted by the University of Oregon Historic Preservation Program. Members also have held discussions with representatives from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation on next steps of stabilization of the building and developing a plan of action. Another item on the committee’s list is researching placement of the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lone Star Building was constructed in 1920 and served as the administrative office of the Superior and the Lone Star Portland Cement companies. During April’s community visioning, residents expressed their desire to restore this historic building.

During the Dec. 14 Town Council meeting, Mayor Judd Wilson announced his intention to actively support the Lone Star Building renewal efforts, saying, “When I became mayor, I chose five major projects for my plate. This is number five.”

These two projects are part of a larger plan that would tie these areas into a large complex that could include building a covered pavilion over the former tennis courts; the resulting space could be used for a variety of community functions.

Fence me in
Another project about to begin is partially fencing the Silo Park play area. When completed, the play area will be more secure for smaller children.

Economic Development Plan
This committee is a subset of the Economic Development task force. The committee is looking at ways to revitalize the historic downtown area. A review of the Concrete Comprehensive Plan and other publications and documents is in progress. The committee plans to hold discussions on ideas for the Town Center with members of the Chamber of Commerce and Planning Commission.

There is room on each task force and participation is welcome at any time. The single most resounding requirement for these projects is community involvement, so come be a part in building the kind of community in which you want to live.

The Imagine Concrete steering committee and task forces meet the second Wednesday of each month at 6  p.m., in the Pilots Lounge at Mears Field. The group’s next meeting is Jan. 13.

Eric N. Archuletta is a graduate of Antioch University in Seattle. His Master’s thesis was “Building a Sustainable Rural Community” with the Town of Concrete as its focus.

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