PORTLAND – As new industry continues to roll into the county, cities are looking for new ways to make sure they stay. And while new industry means new people coming into the area, city officials wants to make sure that the growth will also have a positive impact on residents that have spent their lives in San Patricio County.

Portland held a stakeholders meeting last Monday to present their plan for the revitalization of the Old Town area to do just that. It was a meeting meant to try and bring the citizens together and form a plan that would benefit all the residents as well as create economic opportunities for years to come.

“This morning we will begin a several months process to define and develop a plan to revitalize and breathe new life into one of the oldest parts of the city of Portland, our Old Town area,” Portland Mayor Cathy Skurow said. “With more than 70% of the world’s population estimated to live in cities by the year, 2050, our country is witnessing a resurgence of downtown main street and city center revitalization.

“People living in cities are looking for those things that provide quality of life where they live and Portland is no different.”

She continued by saying that residents, especially those living in the Old Town area, have a vested interest and their input is essential as the plans move forward.

“Revitalizing our Old Town area starts with bringing people together in order to understand our community,” Skurow added.

“The revitalization of Old Town presents an opportunity to create a walkable neighborhood of vibrant shops, unique dining experiences, entertainment venues and arts and cultural events, all while attracting people to live, work and shop in Old Town.

“It’s a chance for us to celebrate Portland’s Old Town history, and to create new opportunities for businesses and residents.”

To help in the revitalization, the city has brought in several consultants who are experts in their respective fields such as Rik Adamski, whose areas of specialization include downtown and neighborhood planning, zoning, parking, permitting and crime prevention through environmental design. 

“We’re here to support your vision,” Adamski  said. “Our most important job is to listen, and only you can make Old Town special.

“We can provide tools and resources for you, but we realize that we’re here for you and we’re here to serve your vision.

“So we’re the experts, all of us in our field, but we are not the experts of Portland.

“You’re the experts of Portland.

“And we’re here to listen and learn, and we’ll have a lot more expertise about Portland by the time we’re done with that process.”

He added that the consultants will help implement the plans and that they weren’t just there to present a plan that will sit on a shelf for 10 years and be a waste of everyone’s time.

Adamski also presented some of their previous work in other cities where they were able to create functioning outdoor spaces, complete with live music and food trucks, that not only benefited the cities, but the residents as well.

While the plans are still in the infant stages, city officials are planning on holding more meetings to get more citizen input and make sure that everyone is heard and the plan is something the residents can get behind.

For more information on the project and to watch the full meeting, visit portlandtx.com.

“It’s about bringing people together and giving people a reason to visit Old Town, and to return over and over again,” the mayor said. 

“Attractive public spaces can help individuals connect with each other, business owners and the broader community. This process can strengthen and diversify local economy and expand employment opportunities for people of all income levels.

“Though it may be difficult to look at our Old Town area and see anything other than challenges, these empty and unused areas are untapped potential for revitalizing Portland and expanding economic opportunity. Through public engagement, strategic planning, public commitment and ongoing support we can foster a center of economy, culture and history in Portland.

“I look forward to seeing our collective vision come to life.”