Downtown Corvallis is one of the best downtown areas in Oregon, with a vibrant mix of restaurants and shops, a stellar Saturday market, parks, and plenty of public art.
So it seemed odd and surprising when news broke that the Downtown Corvallis Association was disbanding after nearly four decades.
Following the organization’s demise, the town of Corvallis, which has an economic improvement district that helps fund the association, requested a closing audit of the group’s records.
In a statement, the Downtown Corvallis Association blamed the pandemic for the development, saying COVID-19 had caused the cancellation of most major fundraising events. Membership in the tax district that helps fund the association has also declined, leading to lower revenue, said Kate Porsche of the Corvallis-Benton County Office of Economic Development.
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Corvallis Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Simon Date, a non-voting member of the Downtown Corvallis Association, said the departure of Jennifer Moreland, the association’s executive director, was also a complicating factor.
Moreland’s Facebook page says she is moving to Florida. Replacing her would be difficult under the ongoing financial hit of the pandemic, Date said.
Yet, pandemic or not, the demise of the Downtown Corvallis Association is shocking and sad, in part because the organization has accomplished some good things over the years. Of course, we’ve heard sources complain about how the association could have helped businesses more, and our editorial board certainly thinks it could have done a better job of promoting its community events.
But overall, for almost 40 years, the consensus was that the association had a positive impact on Corvallis town center and the town in general.
The organization provided businesses with marketing and networking assistance, acted as a spokesperson at city hall, and organized community events to showcase the area.
At this point, it’s unclear who will absorb these important functions, although the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce may pick up some of the pieces.
Meanwhile, across the Willamette River, the Albany Downtown Association continues to push forward, serving as an important voice for Hub City’s shops and restaurants.
Downtown Albany has experienced a resurgence over the past decade and continues to improve. The Albany Downtown Association deserves ample credit for this, as its leaders have been tireless supporters and cheerleaders for business.
Yet despite Downtown Albany’s renaissance, Corvallis is still considered the standard bearer for quality downtowns, and for good reason. We’re sure downtown is a big part of why Corvallis stays atop Forbes and Livability’s Best College Towns lists, a fact that Oregon State has plastered campuswide in its “Best College Town” posters. Pac-12″ college town.
Downtown’s stature is no magic trick. It took decades of effort and skill. And it will take hard work to maintain this noble reputation of downtown Corvallis.
Arrest highlights major problems with law enforcement
The February 12 case of a man accused of breaking into a house, strangling and sexually abusing a woman in her shower – the third arrest of this individual on the same day – highlights highlights some of the toughest issues facing law enforcement in Corvallis and Benton County, and shows how officers often don’t have good options.
The first issue concerns the shortcomings of the Benton County Jail. Regardless of what you think of the site for a proposed new prison or eminent domain, it is clear that we need more prison beds. Within two hours of the alleged attack, the suspect was taken into custody twice on suspicion of criminal trespassing. He was cited and released because the gravity of the alleged crimes did not meet the criteria to keep him behind bars. There is simply no space to accommodate people, even those who appear to be having a mental health crisis.
Second, the incident shows the intersection between law enforcement and mental illness. It should be noted that proposed improvements to the Benton County court system, in addition to a new jail, include a mental health crisis center and more.
Fortunately, authorities are also developing more nuanced ways to help people with mental health issues, like the Crisis Outreach Response and Engage team in Corvallis, which we featured in Tuesday’s paper.
We hope to see more collaborations and new strategies to address a growing mental health problem in the Mid-Valley and across the United States.
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