Eugene Town Square
What belongs at the center of a city?
Its people, of course!
On the one hand, a Town Square is a place to showcase the best of Eugene, a place to tell the story of our history, our culture and our aspirations to all the world; on the other, it’s a place for the community to gather, a place for all Eugeneans to feel at home, and a park for the downtown neighborhood. In fact, a Town Square is where all of this comes together—it’s a place for people.
What is the Eugene Town Square?
The Eugene Town Square will transform the Park Blocks at 8th Avenue and Oak Street into a dynamic public place, bringing our diverse community together year-round. Today, the Park Blocks are famous for hosting the Eugene Saturday Market and Lane County Farmers Market. The Town Square will look to build on these popular events by giving a permanent home to the Farmers Market and making improvements to the Park Blocks to support the vibrant Eugene Saturday Market. Eugene’s City Hall will be built as a part of the Town Square, facing on to a restored Park Block that has been covered up by the Butterfly Parking Lot for the last 50 years.
By giving a permanent, covered home to the Farmers Market a new site for the Eugene City Hall and improvements to the Park Blocks, the Town Square will become the front porch of our city, our civic center; a beautiful place to gather, play and celebrate everything wonderful and unique about our city.
What needs fixing?
Our public spaces are part of what makes our city stronger civically, socially, culturally and economically. The Park Blocks today are often underutilized, especially outside of programmed events.
Practical problems are part of the current underutilization of these spaces:
- Inadequate space for the Farmers Market
- Insufficient utilities
- Accessibility obstacles
- A parking lot encroaching on the public space
At a deeper level, the Park Blocks lack energy: without a clear connection to our city, they fail to demonstrate the deep care and passion that we have for our community. The Town Square should be a place where we celebrate our great joys, collectively mourn our tragedies, and come together for the cultural events that make life richer.
As Eugeneans, we have the opportunity to rediscover the Town Square we used to have—Park Blocks dedicated to the community by our city founders—and transform it into something that serves our community today and is a legacy for future generations.
What’s Going On Now?
The City of Eugene has been working with Cameron McCarthy, a Eugene-based design firm, to draw up preliminary concepts for the Town Square. Over the course of Spring and Summer of 2019, city staff and design consultants will held conversations with stakeholders and host public events for the community to give design input and feedback. The design team will use an ongoing process, refining the plans and returning for more public comment until a final concept design is ready to present to City Council for funding. If City Council approves the project funding, the Town Square Project will move into implementation with design development and construction.
On Monday, July 20th, at 5:30 PM, the Eugene City Council, acting as the Downtown Urban Renewal Agency Board, will hold a Public Hearing to gather feedback from the community about the proposed Park Blocks and Farmers Market projects. The hearing will be an opportunity for community members to comment on whether the projects should move forward, and if so, whether they should be funded with Urban Renewal.
The Public Hearing will be held virtually on Monday, July 20th on Zoom at 7:30 pm. Requests to speak will be accepted from 7:15 to 7:30 pm. There will be opportunities to participate either by phone or with a computer/tablet. Visit the City of Eugene website for instructions on how to participate.
If you cannot give comment at the meeting, there is also the option to send in a written comment to email@example.com.
A week after the Public Hearing, on Monday, July 27th at 7:30 pm, the Agency Board will hold a vote on whether to move the Farmers Market and Park Blocks projects forward.
Visit http://www.eugenetownsquare.org to find out more about the public design process.
In June 2017, the Eugene City Council and Lane County Board of Commissioners reached an agreement to provide:
- A site for a new County Courthouse on the former City Hall site
- A site for a City Hall and Farmers Market on the current Butterfly Lot
One condition of the agreement was that a judge determine that there are no restrictions on the property that would prevent the proposed purchase, sale, or development of those properties for the proposed uses. In October 2018, a judge ruled that no deed restrictions exist to prohibit Lane County from selling the Butterfly Lot to the City of Eugene.