Cottage Grove: Lane County's Can-Do City

Downtown Cottage Grove 
​                                                                                                Photo courtesy of Paul Zegers

With a population just shy of 9,800, Cottage Grove is the third largest city in Lane County. Many have yet to visit the beautiful little city that has twice received the All-America City Award. (Salem is the only other city in Oregon to have received the award twice.) The All-America City Award is given annually by the National Civic League to just ten US communities. The award recognizes those whose citizens work together to identify and overcome community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results. Richard Meyers, Cottage Grove’s city manager for the last 19 years, said “the award reflects the can-do attitude that is overwhelmingly present in Cottage Grove.”  

In the past few years, Cottage Grove has been busy planning and preparing for growth and expansion, which came in the form of a few different projects. Meyers made a point to mention that with the city’s can-do attitude, many of these projects have been successful because of the participation of multiple organizations and groups. Some of the city’s current projects include:  

The Armory:  

At the Mayor’s Ball in October, the City of Cottage Grove kicked off its 30-month, $3.4 million dollar fundraising campaign to restore the recently purchased Armory. Built in 1931, the Armory is a 33,080 square foot building that sits on a 19,481 square foot lot. The City acquired the building in 2010 after the Oregon National Guard vacated the building to relocate to the Readiness Center in Springfield. The building was purchased for $395,000 on contract from the Military Department. 

In 2012, the City successfully secured a spot for the Armory on the National Register of Historic Places. The Armory is located within Cottage Grove’s downtown National Historic District, and renovations must be done in compliance with State historic preservation rules. Renovations have already begun – thanks to a grant for window restoration and a donation from the Faye and Lucille Stewart Foundation that restored heat to the building.  

The City envisions the building as a multi-use community program and event facility, and there has been early interest expressed by several youth programs. 

PakTech: 

PakTech is a leader in sustainability, designing and manufacturing packaging handles that provide a simple, low-waste alternative for bulk packaging. Their handles are manufactured through injection molding. The demand for their services is growing quickly, creating the need to rapidly expand.  

With renovations already under way, PakTech is expanding operations to Cottage Grove. Based in Eugene, PakTech is excited to grow and begin operations in its new additional production space in 2017. The company is currently renovating the old Kwikee building and will create more than 100 jobs in Cottage Grove.  

Main Street Development:

Working with the Main Street Program, the Economic/Business Improvement District, and the Chamber of Commerce, the City is looking to continue improvements downtown and host more events and activities. Annual Halloween activities bring more than 2,000 people downtown for an afternoon of fun. The City also recently adopted a Main Street Refinement Plan to make significant infrastructure improvements to enhance downtown Cottage Grove, and funding will be sought to implement that.  

Safe Routes to School: 

The City Council recently received comments expressing concerns about the lack of sidewalks and safe crossings for youth attending the middle school. Additionally, the Council recently adopted a new Transportation System Plan which referred to the need for connectivity improvements for pedestrians. As such, the Council has determined that sidewalks and crossings need to be installed. The ambitious project will require adjacent property owners to have sidewalks installed while the City and School District will complete a significant portion of the total improvements. 

Cottage Grove State Airport:

The City has been working with the State Aviation Department to improve the Cottage Grove State Airport and enhance the potential for economic development. The annexation of the airport property has been completed and the City will now be working with the Aviation Department to prepare a master plan for the property.  The City has also been working with a private non-profit to reestablish the Pilot Welcome Center at the airport. The nonprofit has raised over $100,000 to begin construction. The City is also contributing $5,000 toward the cost of development fees and a courtesy car for the facility.   

Cottage Village Coalition: 

As is seen in most communities throughout the state and even the nation, housing and especially affordable housing is in short supply in Cottage Grove. A private non-profit group, the Cottage Village Coalition, was formed to address the housing issues. Cottage Village Coalition is “advancing self-sufficiency and human dignity by providing safe, stable, well-designed tiny homes in a village setting for those who need them most.”  

​The Coalition has been discussing the housing issues Cottage Grove faces and examining housing options for low income families and individuals. It has partnered with Square One Village out of Eugene and is looking forward to developing a project with tiny homes in the community. The City Council will be covering development fees up to at least $15,000. 

​In addition to these projects, 2017 will bring many events and activities to town, including four major cycling events and summer concerts. Cycling has become a large part of the city’s tourism offerings, and it continues to draw visitors. It’s an exciting time for the city and for Lane County. If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Cottage Grove’s happenings, subscribe to the weekly newsletter, the Friday Update. Sign up on the Cottage Grove website for more information and updates on these and other developments.  

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