Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Oregon eyeing plan to spruce up corner

At least one corner at Oregon's busiest intersection soon may become a lot prettier.

Though the city's years-old proposal to beautify the northwest corner of Navarre Avenue and Wheeling Street has been moving slowly, it hasn't been forgotten.

The issue was the first item for discussion at Oregon City Council's drainage, roads, buildings, and lands committee meeting last week.

There, several city officials reiterated their thoughts that the land should be designed for passive use, and possibly feature a defining piece of art or architecture.

The park could have benches, grassy areas, and flower beds where people could relax, read, or picnic.

Councilman Sandy Bihn, chairman of the committee, said she wants to see artwork showcased there as long as it's not something abstract.

"I don't think Oregon would like something funky," Mrs. Bihn said.

She proposed asking the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo to facilitate the project because the commission has connections with artists.

If that's the direction the city wants to take, Mrs. Bihn suggested creating a design review board with seven to nine members from the Oregon community and several from the commission to decide on a piece of artwork.

In return, she said the commission would charge 10 percent for oversight, sending out bids, and coordinating the committee.

Councilman Steve Kusian, who is not a member of the committee but who sat in on the meeting, said he agreed that using the arts commission would be a good idea but was not sure that people actually would sit on benches at the busy, noisy intersection.

Councilman Jerry Peach, on the other hand, said he was not completely on board with using the arts commission because he's not sure that corner is the right place to showcase art.

"To make art a focal point - I just have reservations that that's the right spot," he said.

The city bought Henry Holzhauer's two small parcels, total-ing 0.21 acres, in May, 2003, for $90,000.

Half the purchase money was provided by St. Charles Mercy Hospital, which is diagonally across the intersection.

Except for removal of some flowers that will be brought back to the site and the removal of the Holzhauer home, Oregon has made no changes to the property since the acquisition.

But nearly a year ago, the city asked residents what they would like to see at that corner.

A handful responded with either letters or drawings and suggested a clock tower, an archway, or a welcoming sign.

"A nice, tall structure. That's what we're looking at," Mayor Marge Brown said, speaking for the city administration.

Though some city officials said that they liked the idea of a clock tower, a water fountain, or some other defining structure, they shied away from a sign that would welcome motorists to their city.

"This is the busiest corner in town, but it's not the entrance to the community," Mrs. Bihn said.

City officials thought that the northeast corner of the intersection - which would catch motorists headed east on Navarre - was more of a community entrance.

Mayor Brown said that she intends to continue to look into the possibility of acquiring that corner as well over the next few months.

"As you come down Navarre to go east, that should really be the Oregon city of opportunity gateway," she said. "At least we're discussing it so that something can happen."

While the committee did not vote on a direction to take yet, Mrs. Bihn said that she would be talking with members of council to get more ideas on how to proceed.

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