Public Investment / Plan Progress
The ongoing Downtown Visioning Study is intended to "identify and assess, through citizen engagement and professional analysis, the range of alternatives and feasibility for revisioning the downtown to enhance the physical appearance and functionality of the area." The project will also evaluate the existing condition of the former railroad tunnel passing under the pedestrian mall and make recommendations for how best to use that area in the future.
Incorporating all of these topics, the Downtown Visioning Study is expected to touch on almost every specific strategy and action item contained within the Lebanon CBD chapter of the Master Plan. Successful completion of this Visioning Study will represent a significant step forward in the implementation of the City's 2030 Master Plan.
To me, the most important component of this project is public participation. This project is not about "the City" simply informing "the Community" what will be done. Rather, this project will be most successful if the Community is consulted and involved about what it feels ought to be done and is empowered to help find or create solutions to improve downtown Lebanon.
During the course of working on the project thus far, I've come to learn that the City has undertaken downtown studies before. A Downtown Improvement Study was completed in 1985. The idea of a downtown parking garage was evaluated in 1990. A Lebanon Business Mall Study was prepared in the late 1990s. Doubtless, these and other studies were carried out with the same energy and enthusiasm as the current Downtown Visioning Study. But for whatever reason, many of the recommendations and actions from those prior efforts have not been fully realized. Looking at those prior documents, some of the same issues remain today that were identified 20 or even 30 years ago.
In order for this Downtown Visioning Study to be successful, it will be critical for the community to keep the Visioning Study and its Implementation Plan and Action Items in the forefront of its collective mind as future discussions are held and decisions are made. If the City does not achieve a consensus about downtown and what should be done, and does not succeed in keeping the goals and aspirations of the Plan in mind during regulatory reviews, budget hearings, and other decision-making processes, then the current project may suffer the same fate as those prior attempts.
As we approach the midpoint of this roughly year-long project, following is a brief summary of what we've accomplished so far and what remains to be done:
In July, the City completed a successful consultant search by retaining Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) to lead a multi-disciplinary consulting team. The team includes Goody Clancy, working on urban design and planning issues; the SE Group, working on implementation and branding efforts; and Applied Economic Research working on market research and reviewing funding strategies. VHB is leading the public outreach, transportation, and the structural review of the tunnel beneath the pedestrian mall.
In September, the project kicked off with a day-long meeting with the consultants and City staff to tour the study area and review existing conditions and background information.
In October, the public outreach and engagement portion of the project began in earnest. A full day of focus group meetings was held to discuss Issues, Opportunities, Vision, and Priorities with key downtown stakeholders. The focus groups included property owners, business owners and merchants, representatives from the finance and real estate sector, non-profit organizations, and institutions as well as City staff involved in programming, regulating, and maintaining the area. The day concluded with a City Council work session to review the status of the project and to solicit their input as stakeholders.
Later in October, the City held its first Public Meeting to solicit broader community input and ideas about the downtown. The highly-successful meeting was attended by nearly 75 people who shared great feedback and suggestions for how to make downtown Lebanon an even better place to live, work, shop, and play.
Downtown Lebanon Revisioning Study QR Code
Since the first Public Meeting, the City has received additional input from over 250 people through an online survey. The survey can also be accessed by scanning the QR Code on this page.
Upon completion of the multiple-choice survey, you will have an opportunity to see how others have responded to the same questions, such as the example below. You'll also have an opportunity to answer a few open-ended questions to provide even more feedback.