Hear ye, hear ye… Share your ideas on urban renewal projects for Talent!
In August, the Talent City Council decided to take more time to revise the proposed urban renewal plan. So, what kind of revisions are we talking about? Below are descriptions of some of the changes that the City is considering in an updated plan. These changes are being actively worked on and will be regularly presented to City Council throughout October’s City Council meetings.
#1 Re-analyze the finances
City Council has decided to delay the “frozen tax base” of the urban renewal district by one year, to help bring property tax revenues back to what they were pre-fire. This helps lower the financial impact on the other taxing districts, including the City. While we are waiting for the certification of the official tax roll, we are also re-looking at our financial assumptions to provide more accurate projections. Those refinements will include the impact of new manufactured homes on property values and more nuanced projections of commercial recovery. Ultimately, this will help us understand which property value increases can be attributed to rebuild efforts, and which can be attributed to urban renewal projects.
#2 Set measurable goals
Measurable goals can help us understand if we are achieving what we intend to achieve. How many businesses do we want to help? How many additional homes do we want to bring to our community? What amount of tree canopy do we want to recover? When deciding these goals, the City is not only looking at what was lost in the fire, but also at what other amenities our community wants and needs.
#3 Reduce the potential of displacing current residents and businesses
A common effect of urban renewal is the displacement of lower-income community members who live and work within the urban renewal area. How does this happen? Urban renewal is designed to address “blight” by encouraging property development. Property development increases the attractiveness of an area, wealthier people move to that area, property prices are further driven up, and many of the people previously living or working there are priced out – a process known as gentrification and displacement. This plan, however, hopes to ensure the opposite by using urban renewal to create the space for the communities who originally lived or worked in the burn area to return. How can we ensure that? Staff is conducting research on what has worked elsewhere. Among the ideas are creating criteria that each project must meet before being implemented and having community-based decision making (for example, having neighborhoods or community groups approve which projects move forward).
#4 Address impacts we didn’t expect from the fire
One of the impacts we didn’t expect in the aftermath of the fire is how densely some neighborhoods are rebuilding. With higher density comes the need for upgraded City infrastructure, such as curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, wider water lines, and clearer signage. Urban renewal funds can be used to assess infrastructure needs and pay for projects that the City wouldn’t be able to afford on its own.
#5 Support our partners’ work
Urban renewal is funded by the redistribution of tax dollars, so it decreases the tax revenues districts would have received in the absence of urban renewal dollars (although, it can increase expected revenues over the long term). But that doesn’t mean that urban renewal can’t help! I have started reaching out to the other taxing districts to see what type of projects could help support their services. Covered bus stops to help transit riders? New computer equipment for the library? Fire hydrants that support higher water pressure? I hope to dive into ideas in October and present them to Council as ways to improve services and support our regional partners.
#6 Focus on community-identified projects
The best way to figure out how to make Talent a better place to live is through YOU, dear reader... yes, YOU. Do you walk regularly to downtown and often get ideas that would make the walk even better? Did you go on vacation to Idaho last month and see a hip food court that would work great for Talent? Below are some of the ideas that have been shared so far.
· Benches and resting spots at regular intervals
· Crosswalks near the playgrounds
· Loans with residential terms (lower interest, longer term) for businesses that want to build
residential units along with their commercial space.
· A space for a flea-market/farmers market, a hardware store, pickleball courts
If you have project ideas on how to make our community more livable, please email your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
As always, thanks for being a part of our community.