July 3, 2020 — The Florence Urban Renewal Agency (FURA) held its monthly meeting on June 30. The agenda for the Wednesday evening meeting was centered around an update of COVID-19 procedures and reports from Administrative Services Director Anne Baker and Acting City Manager Megan Messmer regarding the results of an agency audit and an update on the ReVision Florence Streetscaping project.
The COVID-19 discussion was the first item considered by the directors and was led by City Recorder Kelly Weese.
Weese addressed in detail the public comments requirements for holding municipal meetings, as there has been some concern expressed by residents over their ability to participate in public policy development since the closure of public meetings.
According to Weese, policies temporarily in place were being updated. One reason given was to allow for public comments on subjects that were not scheduled as an agenda item.
While all verbal comments at public meetings have been severely restricted during the pandemic, there are allowances being made for the acceptance of public input as detailed in the procedures adopted by directors.
“At their June 22 City Council Special Meeting, the Florence City Council adopted updated Temporary COVID-19 Public Meeting procedures with amendments that seek to increase public participation in city public meetings given the technology capabilities recently implemented and the need to move to a longer term solution for public meeting protocols during the COVID-19 emergency recovery,” Weese stated in her staff report.
The “substantive proposed amendments” to the Temporary COVID-19 public meeting procedures included allowing for additional meetings as necessary to meet the needs of the adopted work plan and budget; allowing for presentations and ceremonial items as appropriate; and allowing for public comments on all types of agenda items. This could include general public comments for items not on the agenda, public hearing items and action items.
These changes can be found fully at www.ci.florence.or.us by clicking on the June 30 FURA meeting.
Later in the meeting, Baker presented the results of the FURA audit, which was conducted by Isler CPA.
Baker’s report indicated the financial statements presented for audit presented fairly, in all material aspects, the position of agency funds.
The agency’s combined fund balances as of June30, 2019, totaled $3.6 million, a decrease of $508,300 from the prior year.
The deficit was due to the funding of the ReVision Florence Streetscaping Project, explained Baker.
Messmer then summarized the completed elements of ReVision Florence. She indicated the work done to this point had met expectations and the next stage of the project, the installation of the metal Gateway obelisks on Maple Street, was progressing. The cost for the creation and installation of the two “monuments” is more than $400,000.
Afterwards, Weese updated FURA directors on the future marketing of the agency’s Quince Street property, located across the streets from the Florence Events Center. The city recorder recommended the approval of moving forward with the release of a “Request for Expressions of Interest for Redevelopment Site.”
She recapped the observations and suggestions made by members of the Quince Street Selection Advisory Committee, which is made up of four directors from FURA. The entire Request is now public online at www.ci.florence.or.us/urbanrenewal/quince-street-request-expressions-interest. The request was issued formally July 1 by FURA, with a deadline for first on Friday, Aug. 14, at noon.
In his welcome letter to the request, FURA Chairperson Bill Meyer wrote, “Established in 2007, FURA’s vision is to revitalize the downtown area as the primary cultural, tourist, commercial, and community core to serve all of Florence’s citizens and visitors, while encouraging continuing growth, development and enhancement consistent with Florence’s small-town ambiance and character.
“As the chairperson of the Florence Urban Renewal Agency, I am proud to be leading the project to revitalize and develop the Quince Street property offered in this Request for Expressions of Interest. We know that this project will serve as a cornerstone of the Florence Urban Renewal Area and the community as a whole.”
FURA directors had few questions for staff on any of the issues brought before them during the meeting and approved all recommendations made by staff.
The next FURA meeting is scheduled for July 22 and will be live streamed on the city website.