The Oregon State University-city of Corvallis collaboration project steering committee met for the first time Monday evening to hammer out how to move the project forward.
And with the ground rules of the three-year project in place, the committee plans to hold more town hall meetings, hire a project manager and assemble work groups in the next six months. All this is aimed at resolving town-gown issues between permanent Corvallis residents and the OSU community that have simmered for decades but have reached a boiling point in the past few years due to OSU’s explosive student population growth.
With a $300,000 budget funded by both the city and OSU, the project aims to address three distinct issues: transportation and parking, neighborhood zoning and overall livability.
The collaboration project launched in the fall with a well-attended town hall in November to air thoughts about these issues. The project then was unanimously approved by the Corvallis City Council in December. The project’s 16-member steering committee, chaired by Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning and OSU President Ed Ray, was announced the same day.
Steering committee staff members Ken Gibb, the city’s community development director, and Vincent Martorello, OSU’s facilities services director, spent much of the meeting discussing the project’s scope. The presentation was similar to those in the town hall in November and the council meeting in December that homed in on three topics: transportation, zoning and livability.
Gibb and Martorello also specified the roles of individuals and groups involved in the project:
• At least one work group will address each of the three topics. Representatives from OSU, the city and the community will be named to make recommendations to the steering committee and will gather most of the information, said Gibb: “They’re going to be in the trenches.”
• A project manager will support the project’s various work groups, oversee and communicate progress to one another and lead public meetings. The steering committee plans to name this project manager within a week.
• The steering committee will take recommendations from the various work groups and then make recommendations to the City Council and OSU. Steering committee members also might participate in work groups.
• The project will have a transportation consultant. Martorello said it’s likely to be the same consultant already used by OSU’s facilities services: “We’ve been priming the consultant as much as possible.”
Committee member Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president of university relations and marketing, provided the committee with a communications strategy. A major component of that strategy is a website linked from both the OSU and city websites that provides project updates and information. It would list meetings, link to the websites for the project’s three work groups, and accept community comments. The committee hopes to launch the website soon.
The overall communication strategy’s goal: make both the university and greater community aware of ways to provide feedback, then gather and use that feedback as the project moves forward.
The steering committee’s next scheduled meeting is at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. in the meeting room at the downtown fire station, 400 N.W. Harrison Blvd.
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.