January 15, 2003 11:00 pm

The La Grande City Council has come up with an impressive list of goals for the coming year. The council has done a good job prioritizing the issues facing the


NUMBER ONE on the council's list is to focus on downtown. Putting the viability of downtown high on the city's priority list shows that the council sees our core area as important to the health of the city. Making downtown No. 1 on the list provides direction for council and staff decisions on issues that affect the area.

Small communities need healthy downtowns. For the past several years the city has been laying a foundation for keeping downtown viable. The city has developed a downtown plan, created an urban renewal district, sought and won approval of a historic designation for the core area, sought to find a developer for the old Bohnenkamp site, and coordinated development proposals for the old Safeway site. Continuing all of those efforts will go a long way to helping resurrect and breathe more life into downtown.

THE PROCESS IS never-ending, but listing downtown as the top priority will help ensure the city doesn't let up on its efforts to do all it can to help ensure downtown's viability.

The council also listed other important goals: promoting new business and economic development, staying on course to develop the new library in conjunction with ODS Health Plans' new office in downtown, develop more flexibility in regulating businesses, develop a sustainability audit for the city, maintain a cash carryover, and expand youth involvement in city activities.

All of these goals will go a long way toward making La Grande a better community. The council is off to a good start. The challenge, now, will be in making decisions that reflect the goals.


For the past couple of weeks The Observer has been running a series of stories about the impact pending budget cuts will have on government services. Many of the cuts, of course, will come if Measure 28 on the Jan. 28 ballot fails. Some of the cuts have been cast and will not change regardless of the outcome of the measure.

THE PURPOSE OF the stories, which touched on all aspects of government affected by the state's revenue shortfall, wasn't to put a smoking gun to the heads of voters. Rather, the point was to show what services we will have to learn to do without if the measure fails. Often when money measures are presented on ballots and fail, some voters later voice complaints that they weren't aware of what was really at stake.

A lot is at stake in the Jan. 28 vote. Voters deserve to know.