My very first week working in City of Albany has gone by so fast and completed with a lot of activities as following diary:
A first glance of Albany & Corvallis
David gave us a tour in Albany City Hall. It was a two-storey building decorated with a lot of artworks from communities. We also visited the places nearby such as the fire department station and Public library.
We were given a chance to introduce ourselves and had a briefly discussed with Peter Troedsson, City manager of Albany about the structure of the City Government. He gave us a warmly welcome by driving us around the city. He took us to almost all areas and boundaries of Albany and gave some explanations about them. He raised the concern about the growth of city has increased by 2%/year so, how to manage and control the urban growth? Another interesting issue was Albany has too many parks (based on population ratio), how to budget for park maintenance cost.
After that, David took us a site visit at Corvallis, the city nearby Albany yet so much difference. Albany is known for its historical district while Corvallis is more about city of education because it is the location of Oregon State University. Therefore, there are many undergrads and grads students as the majority of its population. We did gentle walk at riverfront park along Willamette river and the downtown area.
Three meetings had gone in one day.
We had 3 meetings today!
Tuesday morning, We had a meeting with planning department. They discussed and shared the ideas on the ongoing projects such as mill, school, and property. The issues were all about the land use planning.
Afternoon, we had a talk & tour on economic development issues with Seth & Sophie, economics department. The interesting thing is that Albany has “Urban growth boundary” which is a regional boundary that set in an attempt to control urban sprawl, this means urban cannot grow outside the boundary untill there are enough lands based on population growth data.
They also mentioned “Urban renewal district” and “Central Albany Revitalization Area” project, the goal is to increase the economic vitality, encourage the use of vacant and underused land and buildings and rehabilitate structures while increasing property values in city of Albany. The investment of these tax increment funds is expected to increase property values, with total value growth in the renewal area. They walked us to town where the project has done and gave us on-site explanations.
Evening, we went to Corvallis again and were given a chance to observe the public hearing of “Brownfield Site Reuse & Revitalization Program” conducted by Corvallis Area Coalition. the project envisions the benefits of brownfield redevelopment as to increasing value of property. This program funded by US EPA to the coalition and they will work with all stakeholders to identify and prioritize brownfield site and clean up and reuse planning to support redevelopment. I was impressed by community engagement process as they let different stakesholders and communities shared ideas through maps, stickers and post-it.
Take a ride on volunteering Carousel
This Wednesday, I called it Museum day!
Started with Historic carousel & museum, an antique 1909 mechanism has taken over ten years to restore to working order. I was impressed by this heritage carousel all run by volunteers in community. The volunteers put their hearts, time and dedication into each incredible carving animals to preserve a special memory of many from their childhood. Each animal has its own character, detail and meaning. I had a chance to ride on the carousel. That made me feel like I was a kid again.
Another museum is Albany Regional Museum. The building was constructed in 1887. The museum was build to preserve, exhibit and encourage knowledge of the history and culture of Albany. The old train station exhibit includes an 1890 map proclaiming Albany, the “Great railroad center of the North West,” and “Hub city” of Willamette Valley.
1% for Art does matter
Thursday morning, we were given a chance to visit “Albany Police Department” tour as the building of this police station follows Oregon state law as requires public entities spend 1.5% of public building construction costs on green energy technology.
Plus, the building did “1 Percent for Art”, >1% of construction cost for new state building is set aside for the acquisition of artwork.
Afternoon, we had a meeting with Ed, department of parks & recreation, about “Park system” in Albany. The park system plan has been updated every 10 years. As there are 36 parks in the city and the challenge is budget limitation, in terms of management, the parks are managed by both public & private partnership such as university, private operating grant and local community club as a business model depends on the property’s owner and location to generate income and self-sustainability. The parks are designed under design guidelines such as community park area must meet the requirement of 2.5 acres/1,000 population.
Enjoined Albany Wine Walk
After attending Land use planning lecture with David, we joined “Albany Downtown Wine Walk”, which was the event that gave an opportunity to taste great local Oregon wines in Albany, in historic downtown area. The event supported by the Rotary Club of Albany.
I was so excited to meet many people here after a long time. After registering, I got the map, glass and 5 tickets for wine testing. Local winemakers were hidden in scattered shops, galleries and restaurants in Downtown area. We walked around and sought the wines we want to test. I really enjoyed and appreciated as this event was quite a community service project in terms of letting people get to know the downtown area more and generate income to local business through wine tasting activity.
Great, that’s a wrap for first week.