REDMOND — Jim Arney, a forestry worker who lives in Redmond, said that by 2040, he’d like to see his city create a looping bus route with a stop at the airport, a bypass for the southern portion of U.S. Highway 97 and maintain a balanced mix of industrial and white-collar business.
But Arney’s No. 1 priority for Redmond in the next 21 years: keep up with growth.
“It’s going to happen; it’s happening right now,” said Arney, 78. “And it won’t stop.”
A few Redmond residents like Arney shared their visions of Redmond’s future at the city’s fifth Redmond 2040 open house Thursday evening. Public input on Redmond’s growth is crucial to city staff, who are trying to prepare for the expected 7,000 additional housing units that it will need in two decades, due to population growth.
Redmond 2040 is the moniker city staffers have given the updated version of Redmond’s comprehensive plan, which will provide a blueprint for the city’s future, including land use policies and zoning.
“This growth is going to happen, and this is the document that we will rely on to help manage this growth in a well thought-out manner,” said John Roberts, Redmond’s deputy city manager.
Redmond last updated its comprehensive plan in 2001, and the state requires cities to overhaul them every couple of decades, Roberts said. The document will map the future of parks, transportation and help designate which regions of the city could be used to accommodate more housing, commercial and industrial space.
Central Oregon’s second-largest city has seen substantial growth in the 21st century — its population has more than doubled since 2000, adding 17,433 residents between that year and 2018, according to the U.S. Census. Since 2010, the U.S. Census estimates that Redmond has grown by nearly 18%.
The city expects its population, currently at 30,914, to pass 40,000 by 2040.
A bill signed by Gov. Kate Brown this spring will add 485 affordable homes in Redmond possibly as early as the autumn of 2021, which could provide an extra jolt to the city’s growing population.
The point of the open house events, Roberts said, is to gauge how residents feel about Redmond, what they’d like to see preserved and how they’d like the city look in 2040.
The city’s goals for changing its comprehensive plan won’t be unveiled until Oct. 3. Roberts said staff wanted to wait until it compiled public input.
City staffers are expected to present a new comprehensive plan to Redmond’s planning commission first, then the Redmond City Council, by June 2020 at the latest, Roberts said. Once the City Council adopts it, the state will need to approve the document.
At the open house, visitors identified areas where they’d like to see improvement by placing sticky notes on a map. One suggestion was a large music venue, similar to Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater. Another note asked for more affordable housing.
Mary Clark, a 22-year resident of Redmond, said that as the city grows, she hopes it will have plenty of parks and green space.
She singled out the Dry Canyon in Redmond’s center as something she’d like to see preserved.
“It gives people a place to go and be a little bit by themselves in the middle of town,” said Clark, 72.
Tom McEneany, who’s lived in Redmond for four years, said he’d like to see a performing arts center.
He hoped that as the city expanded further away from downtown, small commercial areas with coffee shops and grocery stores would be built for outer neighborhoods, so people could be closer to amenities and tight-knit communities could be forged.
“There are no central facilities in those (far-out) developments, things that would bring people a chance to get to know each other,” said McEneany, 78.
Cascades East Transit staff presented five potential routes for Redmond’s first bus route within the city. The proposed route will be funded by a payroll tax approved by the state Legislature in 2017, which will provide Central Oregon’s three counties and Warm Springs with an estimated $8.8 million this fall, all earmarked for expanding transit routes.
The five routes varied in length from seven to 12 miles, and covered different parts of the city.
The only location that all five maps visited was Fred Meyer in central Redmond. Some focused more on the city’s south end, while others went further north or west.
Derek Hofbauer, the outreach and engagement administrator for Cascades East Transit, said many people wanted the potential transit loop to serve Redmond Airport.
Hofbauer said improving transit services for Redmond, alongside more infrastructure for pedestrians and bikers, would help Redmond accommodate growth.
“That’s the future of a lot of these cities, is to ... alleviate traffic congestion and provide people with transportation options,” he said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7854, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. The original version misstated Derek Hofbauer’s first name. The Bulletin regrets the error.