Eugene's Town Square
Park Blocks, Farmers Market and City Hall
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.
Where is the Town Square?
The Park Blocks at 8th Avenue and Oak Street were established by the city's early founders as a central square for our young community. County offices and private businesses have bordered this park from the beginning, and have witnessed the various evolutions of the space over the years. Today, the Park Blocks are famous for hosting the Eugene Saturday Market and Lane County Farmers 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.
What needs fixing?
The Town Square is not the most essential challenge facing our community right now, but it is part of what makes are city stronger civically, socially, culturally and economically. The Park Blocks today look forgotten and 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 can feel peripheral, and more importantly, they fail to demonstrate the deep care and passion that this community has for the place where we live. 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 the community by our city founders—and transform it into something that serves our community today and is a legacy for future generations.
Spring 2019 marks the beginning of the Town Square Project. City staff and a concept design consultant will host conversations (including an online open house) with community members and key stakeholders about the opportunities for the Town Square and about its best existing qualities. The consultant will develop a concept design from this public input and take that back to the community to see how it measures up to the initial expectations. The consultant will use an ongoing process, refining the design 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.
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 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.