Downtown CG moves toward extension


Local revitalization nonprofit Downtown Cottage Grove has passed its first step in a bid to reauthorize its two fee districts for an additional five years.

By a majority vote, the Cottage Grove City Council approved a request on Sept. 13 to consider to extend the Economic Improvement District (EID) and the Business Improvement District (BID) for an additional five-year period, which will authorize Downtown Cottage Grove to operate these fee districts.

Only Councilor Kenneth Roberts voted against the request while Councilor Jon Stinnett recused himself from the vote and discussion due to his administrative role in Downtown Cottage Grove.

Councilor Mike Fleck was absent from Monday’s council meeting.

State law authorizes the city to establish and extend the formation of an EID and BID to perform economic and business improvement projects and to finance them with assessments to property and businesses.

Participation is voluntary, but under state statute the business owner or property owner of a district must remonstrate in writing to not participate.

These districts have been in operation for some time, but the organizational structure changed about a year ago.

Two groups, the Main Street Cottage Grove program and the Economic and Business Improvement District (EBID), merged under the same roof to form Downtown Cottage Grove. The merger was largely a practical decision as there were several overlaps in goals, project work and even membership between the two entities.

Main Street Cottage Grove, a program which receives support from the city, has been doing work in line with the goals Main Street America, a national program which aims to revitalize downtowns and commercial districts through economic development.

The local program gives primary focus to Cottage Grove’s Historical District and has been behind projects such as the hanging of high school graduation banners, downtown holiday events and Art Walk.

EBID, as the name suggests, focuses on both economic and business improvement projects, though beyond a purely downtown focus.

The nonprofit mainly gains revenue for its projects through a fee system akin to a tax district (the EID and BID), drawing from property and business owners within its jurisdiction.

It has been a partner in improvement projects such as the archway welcoming people to downtown, the All-America City Square, Opal Whiteley and Buster Keaton murals and Bohemia Park’s amphitheater saddle span.

The organization generates the rest of its finances from fundraising events, donations and grants.

Under the proposed extension, the EID would continue to operate as a two-tier district.

Tier 1 property owners would pay 5 cents per square foot a year with a maximum of $500 and a minimum of $100. Tier 2 property owners would pay 2 cents per square foot a year with a maximum of $300 and minimum of $100.

The BID is proposed to increased its flat rate to $100 per business per year. The current rate is $50.

Tier 1 comprises mainly of the Historic Downtown district, extending north and south by a few additional blocks and across the Coast Fork of the Willamette River to I Street. Tier 2 extends beyond downtown southward down Highway 99 and east down Main Street to Gateway Boulevard.

The group’s board was scheduled to meet this week to decide whether to expand Tier 2 to include more commercial properties.

The Cottage Grove City Council originally created the two districts in 2001 for a three-year period. Since 2003, the districts have been extended three times. In 2016, the districts were extended for a five-year term and will expire on Dec. 14, 2021.

Following Monday night’s vote, the process now requires the setting of public hearings and notifications sent to all property owners and business owners in the districts to give them an opportunity to remonstrate.

The first public hearing will consider the extension districts’ authorization by five years and the second public hearing, after the required notification and remonstration window, will consider the assessment amount for the two districts.

The first public hearing and vote on the ordinance are scheduled to take place at the Oct. 25 city council meeting. The second public hearing and vote are scheduled for Dec. 13.

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