By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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A seven-member group of planners and architects charged with assessing the vitality of the city's business district and planning for the future was introduced to community leaders on Monday.
The group was featured at the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Port Angeles Crab House Restaurant.
The team then was at a public open house Monday evening at the Vern Burton Memorial Community Center.
The "sustainable design assessment team" is making a three-day assessment of the city's International Corridor Area, focusing on the beautification and revitalization of the business district.
"This is a very important event for all of us here at the city, and certainly we're extremely excited to have a number experts from across the nation who have proven track records to come here today and help us facilitate an area plan of what's been determined to be a very significant corridor for Port Angeles," said Nathan West, city economic and community development director.
The international corridor includes the strip of land near Front and First streets stretching from Valley Creek to the west, Ennis Creek to the east, the waterfront to the north and the bluffs to the south.
The assessment team is here as part of a $15,000 grant awarded to the city in October from the American Institute of Architects. Port Angeles was one of 10 cities chosen out of 15 that applied.
Preliminary observations and recommendations from the group will cap the visit during a public presentation in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St., on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Rather than a group comprising architects, it is a tapestry of people from different backgrounds.
Team members are:
•SEnSWayne Feiden, planning director for the city of Northampton, Mass., team leader.
•SEnSScott Batson, lead engineer for the Portland, Ore., Bureau of Transportation Community, sustainable transportation.
•SEnSGary Ferguson, executive director of Ithaca Downtown Alliance in Ithaca, N.Y., economic development of downtowns.
•SEnSSeth Harry, Maryland architect and urban designer for American Institute of Architects, community economic development.
•SEnSCarol Mayer-Reed, Portland, Ore.-based landscape architect, waterfront and street slopes.
•SEnSRobert Mitchell, special assistant for planning for the state of Massachusetts, sustainable development, smart growth, land use and code analysis.
•SEnSErin Simmons, director of community assistance for the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects.
Group sessions with city stakeholders will continue this morning, followed by more public presentations.
"We can't do this without public input," Batson said during the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
"Our goal is to listen," Ferguson said during a KONP radio interview Monday afternoon.
"At this point in time, what we want people to do is come and talk about what they would like to see, particularly in terms of downtown revitalization and the economy of their community."
A brief presentation with a question-and-answer session begins at 6 p.m. today in the City Council chambers at City Hall.
Mitchell is a former planning director in Burlington, Vt., which he said, "reminds me a little bit of this setting."
"It sits out on the water -- the waterfront, the mountains backdrop the city. So I spent a lot of time there on similar issues that you're grappling with here."
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at email@example.com.