Main Street grant supported for building rehabilitation

The Cottage Grove City Council approved on Monday to support an application from nonprofit Downtown Cottage Grove for a $200,000 revitalization grant which would go toward exterior rehabilitation of a building at 303 E Main Street.

A council vote was required as the nonprofit asked that the City of Cottage Grove participate in the project as the fiscal agent for the disbursement of grant funds if the grant application is successful, for a three percent administrative fee.

The building, which is adjacent to the Coast Fork Willamette River, will house a restaurant once restored, according to the project, which is being proposed by local company Blackstone Inc.

Councilors Chalice Savage and Jon Stinnett recused themselves from voting and excused themselves from the room, citing actual conflicts of interest as Savage is employed by Blackstone and Stinnett serves as Downtown Cottage Grove’s program administrator.

The Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant Program is issued through Oregon State Historic Preservation Office and intended to support downtown revitalization efforts in communities participating in the Oregon Main Street Network.

City staff said that four or five property and business owners within the Cottage Grove Downtown Commercial Historic District were considered for potential projects for the grant program.

“After a thorough vetting, they chose to support a grant application on behalf of Blackstone Inc., applicant for the Rivers Edge Rehabilitation Project, located at 303 E Main Street,” states the council memorandum. “Rivers Edge was chosen as the best candidate due to its potential to positively impact Cottage Grove through job creation, economic revitalization, development of additional dining options downtown, and historic preservation.”

Len Blackstone, owner of Blackstone Inc, was the key architect behind another downtown renovation — the Bank Building — which finished construction in the fall of 2020. That project also received $200,000 from the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant.

During discussion of the Rivers Edge project on Monday night, councilors were generally supportive of the idea.

Staff said, as far as exterior styles matching the downtown historic district goes, the Historic Preservation Commission would look at designs to make any determinations.

The building itself does not have deep historical value, however. Lane County land appraisal records show the building was erected in 1952 and remodeled for medical offices in 1973.

Councilor Kenneth Roberts said he supported the idea in the interest of economic revitalization.

“That’s the goal of what we’re trying to do to our downtown, is to bring people here,” he said.

Councilor Candace Solesbee said the restaurant “would be a great addition to Cottage Grove.”

Tree City of the Year/Arbor Month Proclamation

Cottage Grove has been named Oregon’s 2022 Tree City of the Year by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Community Trees for its efforts to maintain and improve its urban forest.

For its 28th year, Cottage Grove has also been recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation and it is the fifth year the city has received the Growth Award.

On Monday, Mayor Jeff Gowing issued an Arbor Month Proclamation.

“I urge all citizens to support efforts to care for our trees and woodlands to support efforts to care for our trees and woodlands, to support our city’s urban forestry program, and to participate in one or more events that the sponsors of Arbor month may provide locally and around the State of Oregon,” he said.

He further encouraged “all citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the well-being of present and future generations.”

Donation for Unhoused

The council unanimously voted to appropriate the funds received in the form of a donation to the City of Cottage Grove in the amount of $1,000 from Cindy and Ralph Weeldreyer.

The donation is to be used specifically to provide assistance to people in the community who are unhoused.

“We support the direction and strategy city staff is taking to address the growing homeless situation in our community with dignity, respect, wisdom, and compassion,” stated the Weeldreyers in a letter to the city. “As someone with a front row seat to witness the incredible obstacles these folks must overcome to get their basic needs met, we applaud you for doing your homework and finding common sense solutions … to assist the individuals who are looking for a hand up to regain their rightful place in our society.”

If the funds are not spent in the current fiscal year, the trust fund maintains the integrity of the purpose of the donation and is carried forward to the next fiscal year to be appropriated and available for expenditure.

The next Cottage Grove City Council meeting is scheduled for March 28 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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