Urban planning experts team for Hoquiam downtown revitalization plan

A team of experienced town planners, urban designers and architects — including the people behind Seabrook — will be working with the City of Hoquiam to develop a downtown revitalization plan.

This is another step in the state Department of Commerce New Horizons pilot project. Hoquiam was one of three cities chosen for the program, which helps those cities identify their top priorities and pair them with Commerce programs for planning assistance and possible funding.

“We got a proposal from Qamar and Associates to do a revitalization plan, funded by a Commerce grant through their emerging issues program,” City Administrator Brian Shay told the City Council on Monday. “I’d like us to confirm (Qamar’s proposal) and move forward with the scope of budget, that matches the grant.”

The study is split into three phases:

• Scoping: Research, analysis, and involving local stakeholders to develop a report on existing conditions in Hoquiam by the end of the year.

Charrette: Design a workshop, concept development, work with local stakeholders to develop the downtown revitalization plan by March 31, 2021. The term “charrette” refers to a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project work together toward a resolution.

• Reporting: Finalization and adoption of the downtown revitalization plan by June 1, 2021.

The team will also take the same three-step approach assessing Olympic Stadium to develop a plan for the future of the historic wooden structure, with the same deadlines for completion in each step.

“I’m excited about this,” said Mayor Ben Winkelman. “This seems timely, with the work being done at Olympic Stadium.”

Currently, funded by grants, the stadium is getting some upgrades, including installation of a new fire-suppression system under the stands nearing completion, a new entryway and internet accessibility.

“We’ve taken some steps toward installing some direct fiber connections at the press boxes and inside the stadium,” said Winkelman. The idea is to help support live streaming of different events, which could encourage more use. There is also a new wi-fi hotspot outside the stadium to provide internet access during this time of online learning.

“Even though this is identified as downtown revitalization, that designation of ‘downtown’ is more about where we gather and where social interactions occur,” said Winkelman of the inclusion of Olympic Stadium in the plan. “I think it’s timely and an exciting opportunity to work with this group of people.”

The budget for the revitalization plan is $45,000, which is covered in its entirety by the Commerce emerging issues grant, Shay told the council.

The group has decades of experience in urban planning, led by Laurence Qamar of Portland-based Qamar and Associates, a town planner, urban designer and architect. Three other Portland-based members of the team include Heather Flint Chatto, with 20-plus years experience in urban planning and design; Michael Mehaffy, with more than 40 years as a strategic consultant, planner, researcher, educator, urban and building designer; and civil engineer Sam Nielson, experienced in sustainable land development and transportation projects.

The team members attached to Seabrook include town founder Casey Roloff and Stephen Poulakos, Seabrook director of town planning, who has been Seabrook’s onsite design and planning specialist since 2004.

Shay said work by the team could begin immediately after approval of the scope of project, which the council did unanimously Monday.

“This work will move forward immediately, all funded by the Commerce grant,” he said.