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First Draft of A Street Plan Revealed

posted Aug 28, 2015, 8:02 AM by Skip Lahti   [ updated Aug 28, 2015, 8:28 AM ]

The public was invited to view the first draft of the A street plans on August 17th, 2015.  Many import issues were identified and discussed which sent David Evans and Associates back to the drawing board.  Here are the plans as shown at the meeting.  Also included is the Concept Memo produced by DEA.

These plans can be viewed at City Hall in full scale.  There is also a copy at the Eagles - have a drink and check out the future of Rainier's A Street!

Win a $500 Gift Certificate to Target!!!

posted Dec 6, 2014, 5:33 PM by Skip Lahti

We are raising money to start promoting our projects and beautifying Rainier.

Only 2000 tickets will sold!!

Cost is just $5 each OR get FIVE for $20

The lucky winner will be drawn at the Cornerstone Cafe 
at 5 PM, December 17TH, 2014

WINNER DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PRESENT

Tickets are available at these fine establishments:

CORNERSTONE CAFÉ
EVERGREEN PUB
ST. HELENS CREDIT UNION
GLAZE, GIFTS, AND GIGGLES
LUIGI’S PIZZA
TRUE VALUE HARDWARE
ST. HELENS CREDIT UNION
LOWER COLUMBIA INSURANCE
PASTIME TAVERN

Get yours before they are sold out!!!

To our business friends and associates in St. Helens...

posted Sep 15, 2014, 12:09 PM by Skip Lahti

The St. Helens Economic Development Corporation (SHEDCO) is sponsoring a Business Plan competition for St. Helen's "Main Street" area.  Competition starts October 8th and offers a large grand prize; a $5,000 grant & a $20,000 zero interest loan. 

To find out more, join members of SHEDCO at City Hall, 265 Strand Street, St. Helens, OR on October 6th at 6:30 PM for an orientation session about the Business Plan Competition.

See attached document for more information. 

We made the cut!

posted Jun 11, 2014, 6:00 PM by Skip Lahti   [ updated Jun 11, 2014, 6:09 PM ]

Just heard from Senator Johnson - she spent the entire day defending the Rainier A Street project at the final review committee meeting for ConnectOregon V and reports that the we made the funding cut of recommended projects. Rainier owes Senator Johnson a huge thank you!

Artist Renderings of A Street Business District

posted Jun 6, 2014, 12:51 PM by Skip Lahti   [ updated Jun 6, 2014, 1:27 PM ]

These drawings are only conceptual renderings of what A Street might look like in the future.  They are not "official plans".  Also, keep in mind that the buildings are rendered as "blocks" and are not intended to represent an architectural style, such as "Modern" or "Cubism". In all likelihood, the architectural styling weill probably be fairly similar to current styling.

 A bird's eye view of A Street between East 1st and Wast 2nd Street.

Another bird's eye view of A street looking East.

View of a potential first Street Square or Plaza looking from the river towards The Cornerstone Cafe.

Another view of the plaza showing the Eagles to the left, the Cornerstone to the right and looking towards the river.


What the plaza might look like if viewed from the corner of 1st and A streets.

Aerial view of A Street.

Remember, these are only concepts and are not even proposals.  It is likely that Rainier will add parking instead of a plaza between the Eagles and the Pastime Tavern.  Nevertheless, please comment on what you like, don't like, would like to see, etc.  We hope these images help you visualize the potential for re-vitalizing downtown Rainier.

Feedback From Our First Community Meeting

posted May 29, 2014, 5:30 PM by Skip Lahti   [ updated May 29, 2014, 5:41 PM ]

What we heard and our responses

The turn-out at our first public meeting last week was great!  We estimated over 60 people attended from local business owners and local citizens to local and state government representatives.  The format was intentionally unstructured, informal and casual to allow for free flow of ideas and concerns from everyone.  And it worked! There was lots of excitement and there were many energetic conversations going on all the time.  It was wonderful to see so many people that truly cared about the future of Rainier!

But there was also a lot of skepticism.  Many people had "heard it all before" and wanted to know what would be different this time.  These same people, however, were encouraged by what they saw and heard. 

Here is a list of topics, ideas, and concerns that we collected at the meeting - either in writing or through conversations.

PARKING, PARKING, PARKING!

We understand this is a big challenge for our town - especially if we attract more people to our downtown area.  We are going to lose the diagonal parking along both sides of "A" Street and will end up with parallel parking when the tracks are rebuilt.  As Rainier gets developed, this problem will get even worse.  We believe it will take many different solutions to fix. Some possible ones are:

·         Add diagonal parking on East 2nd Street.

·         A parking structure that can charge fees until paid for.

·         A parking lot or even a structure could go next to the old B of A building.

·         A parking lot on second street across from SHCU.

·         A parking lot next to the post office (maybe even relocating the post office).

·         A parking structure could be built a few blocks away with a small trolley that could run all along the river shuttling people back and forth.

Rail improvements having a negative impact on Rainier

WHAT WILL THE NEW TRACKS LOOK LIKE?

There isn't much information on what is being planned for the rail improvements along A Street yet.  And, as a consequence, there are many rumors spreading about what might be planned. A common rumor is that the railway will be raised somewhere between 12-30 inches off of A Street (so we would have a "hump" with railroad ties and rails) in the middle of the street. Skip has addressed this rumor directly with Genessee and Wyoming and they assured him this is not the case and they don't know how that could have been started. This was one of the rumors we hoped to dispel at the meeting but we continued to get the question (so we are dispelling it again here). But the real concern is having a day-lighted railroad track running down A street with unsightly pedestrian barriers of some kind. 

FOSS MARITME

Another concern regarded Foss Maritime and their need to move oversized loads along A Street as they have in the past. We have not checked with Foss regarding this, but we suspect they have certainly thought about it and have a solution acceptable to them.

STOPPED AND REVERSING TRAINS

Many people understood why the trains hauling timber to Teevin Bros. have to stop and, temporarily block parts of Rainier, but there were questions on why the oil trains do this and if this was going to be a regular occurrence in the future.

TRAIN HORNS

This was certainly a common topic that people were passionate about. Most found the train horns annoying to intolerable, but still understood that the trains had to obey the federal regulations for safety.  However, many people asked why the trains have to "lay on their horns" for long periods of time - especially in the middle of the night.  Mayor Cole made it abundantly clear that Rainier would be applying for a "Quiet Zone" thus greatly limiting the need for trains to sound their horns.  This cannot be accomplished until after the new rails are in and all the barriers are installed.  For more information on Quiet Zones, please see the Federal Railway Association's Brochure on Quiet Zones on our website.

PROPERTY VALUES

Many were concerned about their property values and the effect increased train traffic may have on them.  This is legitimate concern and goes right to the core of what the A Street Group is all about. We are doing everything we can to make sure Rainier benefits from the increased rail traffic - in terms of property values, increased permanent and temporary residents,  as well as increased traffic to our local businesses.

NET BENEFIT

Although some of the impacts of the railway will have negative impacts on Rainier, it is our hope (and mission) to make sure Rainier is left with a net positive impact when the rail project is complete.  Many of the attendees expressed a common sentiment - that those that stand to benefit the most from the increased rail traffic through Rainier ought to help assure Rainier's economic development.

Lack of information about projects planned for Rainier

This is related to the concern above.  Many people expressed dismay at the lack of information about what is being planned.  Some even thought The A Street Group was a sub-committee of City Council. The A Street Group has tried it's best to gather this information but there is very little "official" information available to the public.  There are no time tables, conceptual drawings (official ones, anyway), project descriptions or other information available from an official source.  Several months ago, Senator Johnson demanded at a public meeting here in Rainier, that an official website be created to disseminate accurate and official information to the public.  To our knowledge this has not been done yet but we are in full support of the idea (information found on our website, RainierAStreetGroup.org, is not official and may not be accurate).  More transparency is needed.

Emergency Services and safety

TRAIN SPEED

There were many questions regarding the speed of the trains as they come through Rainier. Yes, the improved railway will allow for a higher speed as well the traffic and pedestrian barriers.  This will shorten the amount of time that the businesses on the North side of tracks are completely blocked, but is also likely to increase the level of risk.  It is our understanding that train speed through Rainier is still being considered by the railway and the FRA.  Please see our simple graphic on our website to help understand the impact of different speeds has on access to the North side of the tracks.

HELICOPTER PAD

A heli-pad for emergency services might be a good idea.   Maybe on top of a new parking structure?

EMT STATIONED ON NORTH SIDE OF "A" STREET

This is extremely important! This is a good solution that doesn't need to cost very much.  We could establish a "satellite"  EMT station that could help serve all of Rainier when there is no train coming through town.  But when a train is coming through town and, potentially, blocking access to the North side of A Street, EMT services would already be located on that side of the tracks. In fact, we should be considering this now since the trains are already coming through town. There is no reason to wait

Enhancements

CURRENT STATE OF BUSINESS FRONTS

All of these beautification projects are nice, but why not start with the current unsightly store fronts along A street and the side streets?  Excellent point!  If some of the local business owners would fix up the exterior of their buildings it would go a long way towards making downtown Rainier more attractive.  REDCO has provided limited funds for this sort of thing in the past, but maybe we need to rethink this program to make it more effective (that is, encourage building owners to keep their buildings looking nice).

SWIMMING POOL/COMMUNITY CENTER

Our town does desperately need community areas with fun activities for all. An indoor pool area for all would be fantastic! Perhaps we can seek out a developer for the brown building on Hwy. 30 to convert into a community center and a pool!

FOUNTAINS

Yes, fountains are nice. Some of you suggested drinking fountains on every corner, children's playing water fountains, and decorative fountains.

THE ARTS

Many attendees wanted to see art shows and displays, small and large music concerts and events located around the downtown area as well as at the park; even permanent artistic installations such as statues and structures that children could play on. Maybe an Arts Commissioner that would drive exhibits, programs and events related to the arts.

WALKING PATH

A walking path with benches and tables, trees and plants, piers and gazebos along the waterfront behind the A Street businesses running from the Marina to the Park generated lots of discussion.  Even the idea of opening up the businesses on the north side of A Street to face the walking street and river was well received. Many noted that this has been a discussion for 10-20 years! Some of the participants were upset at any mention of a walking path because they have been “teased” by this notion for "way too long". Others gave us a hopeless "Yeah, whatever. We've heard that before." But everyone seems to like the idea.

TREES AND PLANTINGS

Too many deciduous trees may create a problem for our storm drains and cause large pools of water in the street.  Even wet leaves on the side walking could be a hazard. Trees lining the railway may create a visibility problem for train engineers.  They should be kept to a low height or use shrubbery that doesn't grow very high.

Funding

Who is paying for all these beautification projects?  At this point, we don't really know.  First we have to decide what we want to do and then prioritize the projects.  The next step is to scope the project and estimate the costs.  At that point, we can look for the appropriate funding. Nevertheless, we have identified potential sources of funding, such as the Ford Foundation, Oregon's bike and pedestrian initiatives, Oregon Marine Board, local sponsors and many others.

Concepts were too "modern" looking

A common comment was the conceptual drawings displayed looked too "modern" and we should develop a more traditional styling to our store fronts - even an "1800's" look. Actually, the drawings were done in block form only to indicate relative size and position of the buildings and "styling" was disregarded.  This gave them a contemporary "cubism" sort of look.  This was not intended!  Perhaps our next conceptual drawings will include styling ideas.

Underground the Utilities

Many of you would like to see this happen.  We have met with the Clatskanie PUD and they have shown interest in contributing to this, but they need an idea of the scope of work which we can't be established until the City Council decides the extent of work needed to renovate the underground waste water system that runs underneath A Street.

SIGNS PROMOTING DOWNTOWN ON HWY 30

Blue highway signs telling drivers of businesses (current and future) is a nice idea we heard and a simple thing to accomplish. In fact, this is another fairly simple thing we could do now.

STOP TALKING AND DO SOMETHING

Many of our attendees expressed a weariness of "lots of talk and little action". We are all in this together and it must start somewhere. Talking about what we want and establishing a vision for Rainier is our first step. The "A" street Group began meeting weekly and have been brain storming together weekly and we are determined to make a difference. Please join us. Help us. Tell us what you want. Together, we can realize our vision of a new and improved Rainier.

DO SOMETHING - ANYTHING - TO SHOW WE ARE SERIOUS.

We hear you loud and clear! We are serious and we meet weekly to keep the momentum going. We've met with local business owners, management of large employers in the area, political leaders (such as, Senator Betsy Johnson, Mark Ellsworth of the Governor's office, Patrick Trapp from the Port of St. Helens, Representatives from the Federal Railway Administration, County Commissioners, Larry McKinley of the Department of Transportation, Representatives from the Railway and many others). And we do our best to attend City Council meetings and keep abreast of what is happening in City Hall.

We attend important economic development meetings such as Connect Oregon to keep in touch with what is happening in our area (or may affect our area).  We've joined the EPA Oil by Train Task Force to keep tabs on safety and environmental issues.  Chuck Daughtry who heads the Columbia County Economic Development Team is now a active member of our committee.  We are doing our best to stay "in -touch" and informed so we can pass this information on to you.

We hired an urban planner with lots of experience using our own money (not tax payer's money). And we built this website to share what we know and what you want.

We are serious!

Unofficial Status of A Street Water and Sewer Project

posted May 28, 2014, 9:06 AM by Skip Lahti

An underground survey was done of the waste water system underneath A Street.  The official report of the survey may be ready this last week of May.  Once the city has had a chance to review the findings, City Council will decide the extent of the work that needs to be done, if any.  Once the scope of work is decided, then an engineering estimate will be made and the project will be sent out for bid.  The bidding process may take a month or so before it is awarded and work can begin.  Our best estimate is that work could begin in September of this year, but we will have to wait to hear from City Hall.

A Street Group Hosts Public Event

posted May 5, 2014, 10:28 AM by Skip Lahti   [ updated May 5, 2014, 10:33 AM ]

    Come see and discuss the

Future of Rainier!

A street Renovation - Railway upgrades, parking, beautification, business development, parks and trails

Issues and Impacts - Increased rail traffic, rail safety, parking, infrastructure

 

Checkout conceptual drawings and photographs of ideas

Talk with experts and stakeholders, business leaders and economic planners

Informal meet and greet

Share your ideas - ask questions - discuss issues

We want to hear from you - all of you!

Food and beverages, too!

WHEN                                                                                              WHERE                                   

May 22nd, 2014                                         Big Green

6:00 PM                                                                                           Behind City Hall in Rainier

Governor Kitzhaber Commends Rail Car Safety Commitment from Global Partners

posted Apr 30, 2014, 5:34 PM by Skip Lahti

Global Partners announces all tank cars received at Clatskanie facility must meet higher safety standards.  See full press release at Clatskanie Chief.

Public Hearing on Crude Oil Shipments at Port Westward

posted Apr 3, 2014, 9:43 AM by Skip Lahti

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is holding a public hearing tonight, April 3rd, 2014 regarding plans to increase crude oil shipments at Port Westward. This will be held at Clatskanie High School 471 Bel Air Dr. in the auditorium.  There will be breakout sessions in the band room.  Question and answers will be from 6:00 pm to 7:30 and pre-registered comments will be accepted from 7:30-9:30 pm.

Note: This is not about oil by train safety, only about environmental impacts - in particular air quality.



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