Lowell: A Hidden Lakeside Gem

Lowell Lake

Lowell is a hidden gem of roughly 1,100 residents located just 21 miles southeast of Eugene on the north shore of the Dexter Reservoir on the Middle Fork Willamette River. A rural lakeside community, the City is surrounded by Fall Creek Lake and Lookout Point Lake, both of which provide many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to kayak, paddle board, fish, and boat. With a high quality of life, Lowell boasts an exceptional school system, great outdoor activities, rich history, and full schedule of community events. The City staff has been busy putting improvements into place to make Lowell an even better city to visit and call home.

At the heart of Lowell’s robust history is the Lowell Covered Bridge, which has been converted from its original use to a museum. This historic covered bridge was built in 1945 and is now open to pedestrians only, featuring a self-guided interpretive display on Oregon's covered bridges. The City also offers a community park with an amphitheater for events and a neighborhood park with a playground. Other nearby parks include Orchard Park, Lowell State Park, and Dexter Lake, which is renowned as one of the Top 10 rowing venues in the country.

On the academic front, the Lowell School District provides an exceptional education, offering educational options to meet the needs of every student. Traditional schools include Lundy Elementary and Lowell Junior/Senior High School. Last year, U.S. News included Lowell Junior/Senior High School on its list of Top 20 High Schools in Oregon, making Lowell Junior/Senior High School one of just two schools in the metro area to make the list. The district is also home to the Mountain View Academy Charter School and Bridge Charter Academy.

Throughout the year, Lowell offers many events to residents and visitors. Events include the Covered Bridge Regatta held every April. The Regatta attracts Junior, Collegiate, Open, and Masters crews from Washington, Western Oregon, and Northern California and approximately 1,500 participants compete. From June to September, the Dexter Lake Farmers’ and Craft Market in Rolling Rock Park offers visitors fresh produce, craft vendors, food vendors, and live music on the stage in the Banner Bank Amphitheater. Also in June, the Columbia Drag Boat Association Races start, ending in September. The Columbia Drag Boat Association (CDBA) is the premier racing association in the Pacific Northwest and offers a wide variety of class competition in a safe, fun and family-oriented atmosphere.

In July, visitors can partake in the Blackberry Jam Festival, a wholesome community event featuring plenty of great music, unique crafts, and delicious food. There is also a car show, fishing derby, quilt show, parade, and more. In August, the Heroes 2 Oregon (H2O) Dragon Boat Paddle Challenge takes place. The Challenge is an annual community event and fundraiser for the Eugene Parks Foundation Veterans Adaptive Sport Project. This is a fun, informal race for teams of 10–20 paddlers, and no experience is required to participate. Lastly, at the end of the calendar year, visitors can attend the Holiday Bridge Lighting and Boat Parade, organized by the City Parks and Recreation Committee each year. This event includes the lighting of the Covered Bridge and Holiday Tree, caroling, and refreshments, followed by the boat parade full of local boats decked out in lights and holiday cheer.

To ensure visitors and residents alike can enjoy all the great things Lowell has to offer, the City has been busy. This year, it has already rolled out several new events, programs, and projects to improve public services and overall quality of life in Lowell. First, the City worked to assist with the relocation of the Dexter Lake Farmers’ and Craft Market from Dexter State Recreation Area to Rolling Rock Park in downtown Lowell. Staff are also developing a new City website to provide more timely information to the public and to advance the Lowell brand. Lowell is also in the process of implementing a beautification program, which includes a community-wide Beautification Day providing a drop-off location for unwanted household items; yard waste composting site; and a seasonal Yard of the Month initiative.

To reduce costs, the City is also in the process of installing the first phase of an automatic-meter-reading infrastructure, cutting staff hours from approximately 30 to 5. It is also installing irrigation systems at both City parks, allowing the City to invest in turf maintenance, including weeding, fertilizing, and re-seeding. The City plans to implement economic development initiatives to improve the environment for business, development and tourism, providing business and residential guides to aid in the process of relocation or development. Additional economic development efforts include developing a community branding and marketing plan and establishing a Tourism Grant Program to support events and activities that promote tourism. Additionally, the City has submitted grant applications to support the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The grant will also support the City as it works to develop a Transportation System Plan and a Downtown Streetscape Plan. This upcoming fiscal year, the City is working to update the library by replacing the computers in the lab; researching the potential for additional programming for children, adults, and seniors; and providing resources to help teach patrons computer skills, including online tutorials or classes.

The City Administrator since 2015, Jared Cobb has implemented many changes, including the adoption of the City’s first Strategic Plan. He shared that “While at times challenging, the decisions we’ve made over the last year and a half have laid a strong foundation for long-term success. Our finances and budget have improved significantly, and citizen participation in events has increased substantially.” The City Council and staff are looking forward to the next chapter. You can track their progress on the City’s Facebook page and website.