'I think finally seeing a project in this pit would make a huge difference'

'I think finally seeing a project in this pit would make a huge difference'

EUGENE, Ore. - Urban renewal, parking woes and filling a couple of huge pits: all giant-sized issues for downtown Eugene.

A group of citizens hopes to change downtown for the better. You may not even know they exist, but they're dedicated to one issue: the future of downtown.

"If Eugene can't get it together to support projects on those subjects then, what is Eugene all about?" asks William Kennedy.

It's the Downtown Neighborhood Association, or DNA for short. Members are business owners and residents focused on four key issues.

The list includes boosting public safety, business assistance, improving downtown parking and urban renewal.

Kennedy, the group's chairman, said the DNA supports a city council plan to raise the urban renewal spending limit and expand the district boundary.

Why is that important? 

The boundary change would take in the PeaceHealth Medical Center at 13th and Olive.

When Peacehealth moves out, Kennedy said urban renewal dollars could be used to help the Veterans Administration set up a clinic.

The group is also keeping its finger on the pulse of two major projects downtown: the Beam development at the Centre Court building and the adjacent pit; and a second pit across from the Eugene Library, set for development by W.G. Development.

"I think finally seeing a project in this pit would make a huge difference for the morale and spirit of the community," Kennedy said.

But the committee knows that changing downtown is a marathon race.

Committee secretary Sherrill Necessary said that on a scale of 1 to 10, "I'm kind of leaning to maybe a score of 5 out of 10, 50-50 that things are going to happen."