The Downtown Medford Association is starting a “census” to cultivate relationships and improve the area in a variety of ways
The Downtown Medford Association has sent out a “census” to assess priorities for the downtown area. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Just as most people have an opinion about Medford’s triple-digit heat wave, it’s not hard to gauge their opinions on another issue: the state of downtown.
Take Vicki Macormic, the owner/broker of Finish Line Real Estate, whose office has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking West Main and Grape streets. Sure, you could say it’s prime downtown real estate, but it hasn’t come without broken glass as a result of the bustling nightlife or even a homeless person barred from entering the your business
“When I’m in here by myself, most of the time, I’ll lock myself up,” Macormic said, adding that the situation has improved with the arrival of a new owner.
And being downtown has its happy moments, like when Macormic fills up helium balloons for the annual Pear Blossom Parade, which he can watch from his office.
The Valley Realtor was recently asked to be a “block captain” for the Downtown Medford Association, which is in the midst of conducting a “census” of business owners.
“Polls really give you the research behind the feelings that sometimes you already have and you want to make sure you’re on target,” said Anne Jenkins, interim executive director of the Downtown Medford Association. “We’re not here to serve ourselves. We’re here to serve downtown.”
The association mailed census information to about 600 people located downtown, according to Jenkins. The census asks participants to fill in their contact information and rank five priorities in order of importance.
The five priorities are: “Represent and participate in downtown issues,” “attract new businesses and residents,” “downtown as a gathering space for events,” “third Friday, education and more “, “safety and cleanliness” and “beautify flowers”. baskets, holiday lights, murals and much more”. Each priority was conceived from four Downtown Medford Association committees focused on different aspects of downtown.
“Those are some of our priorities that we’ve heard from some merchants,” Jenkins said. “We’re trying to gauge whether that’s the direction that the majority of people who are filling out this survey would like us to go in.”
For his part, Macormic filled out the census on Thursday. He put “advocating, representing and engaging in downtown issues” as the first priority while beautifying the downtown was the fifth.
“It was a good (census), at least they’re asking us what we think,” Macormic said.
One issue not explicitly stated in the survey is parking, another issue the real estate agent raised Thursday. His team’s hectic schedules that involve showing homes all over the valley are not conducive to the city’s limited hours for street parking. Macormic said his team agrees that designated parking is too far and too expensive.
Despite the multitude of problems facing downtown, Macormic said the situation has improved.
“For a while it was really bad, and now I feel better. Last night I was here until 9:30 at night, myself, and it didn’t scare me,” Macormic said.
While he said he believes the Downtown Medford Association is rooting for businesses, others aren’t quite feeling it, and that includes another downtown real estate agent, Scott Welch.
“All the (census) questions seem relevant, but the most important question that should be asked and addressed is missing, and that’s the one about the fear factor,” Welch said.
“In this day and age, people are afraid to go into public places without some assurance that safety measures are in place. I think if (the Downtown Medford Association) is serving the consumer, first and foremost, that’s ‘should address’.
He noted how when his office closes up shop at night, his employees usually walk in pairs to avoid altercations with anyone who might be looking for trouble downtown.
“There’s no safety and it’s actually a scary situation,” Welch said. “There’s a mentality here, downtown, that says, ‘You’d better go with yourself.’ That’s not good.”
He said he doesn’t think the Downtown Association will address the safety issue.
“For one, it wasn’t a census item,” Welch said. “Secondly, it is because of previous performance. There is no indication that they intend to do so, and they have not done so in the past. I’m critical.”
Although he disputes the fact that only one postcard was distributed to his company and not to him personally, Welch said he will fill out the census.
“The census is important to the Downtown Association because without it, they are sailing without a chart or a compass and just blowing in the wind,” he said. “They need to have that information to understand and have the direction they need to be successful.”
The survey, published online until August 15, can be found here: rb.gy/gatpc2.
Contact reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.