The John Day City Council established guiding principles for investing in the city’s recreation and tourism economy to lead the discussions during a virtual Recreation Economies for Rural Communities Summit in September.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced in October that John Day was one of 10 communities nationwide to be selected for the RERC planning grant.
While there is no dollar value associated with the grant, John Day City Manager Nick Green said in February that the city will receive help from a planning team to consider challenges and opportunities for the recreational activities prioritized and develop an action plan.
The five guidelines the city agreed to focus on are: create a sense of place; redefine main street as end-to-end within their business corridor; prioritize infrastructure investments in recreation, tourism, the arts and culture; create policies and programs that drive spending increases in tourism; and recreation and market with a purpose.
“These guiding principles are my attempt to capture many conversations that we’ve had with the councilors, city staff and various advisory committees and trying to set the tone for the type of things we want to discuss at the summit,” Green said.
Councilor Shannon Adair said she feels strongly about including more businesses and not limiting Main Street to a couple of blocks.
“Our town is too small to separate Main Street into a couple of blocks, and I think it needs to include and go all the way through downtown and get all the businesses involved,” Adair said.
Green said the new Dollar General store and a possible new bowling alley will help attract people to travel to the west side of Main Street.
For creating policies that drive spending, the city wants to focus on ATV use on the state highway, guided tours for regional destinations and improved maps, wayfinding and placemarkers in town.
“What we’ll walk away with at the end of the summit is a set of prioritized actions and a plan that we can implement,” Green said.
The steering committee that participated in the discussions had different individual focuses in the city that highlighted the recreation economy, health and wellness, fishing and wildlife, education, arts and culture and regional opportunities.
In other city news:
• Officials discussed a possible digital marketing campaign to improve John Day’s online presence and create video content that could attract potential visitors to their website and community.
Straw to Gold, a Portland-based firm helping clients grow their reach through online and print marketing material, and Frontier Unlimited, an Oregon-based outdoors show that airs in the Pacific Northwest, Canada and the United Kingdom, were two organizations presented to the council that could help in creating high-quality content such as 4K video.
No decision was made, but it will be discussed again in a future council meeting.
• The Oregon Department of Transportation’s sidewalk enhancement project along Highway 395 will be delayed due to right-of-way acquisition needed for stormwater management. Bidding will now begin in fall 2021 with construction in 2022, according to the agenda.