The City of La Grande Urban Renewal Agency and its advisory committee received a fairly calm reception at the presentation they gave Thursday night, albeit with a few criticisms mixed in.

The forum, which was designed to give the La Grande community a chance to understand what the Urban Renewal Agency does and how it works, had a low attendance.

The Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, which is a group of community members who reviews the URA, had member Rod Sands lead the presentation, which covered the original intent of the URA and the few policy changes it has undergone since its inception in 1999.

The presentation emphasized that the intent of the Urban Renewal District remains the same — to cure and prevent blight in the main commercially zoned areas in La Grande. The Urban Renewal District is generally where the main businesses are located in La Grande — down and near Adams Avenue and down and near Island Avenue.

URA’s goals and objectives have stayed the same — revitalize downtown; create high-quality, family-wage jobs; retail development and housing development; improve transportation; and community facilities.

Sands said the URA’s efforts will continue until it reaches a total indebtedness of approximately $21.9 million. It has a remaining total of nearly $11.3 million. There is technically no sunset date for the URD.

Steven Berley, a La Grande CPA, said he is from a small town and understands the difficult time cities like La Grande face.

“No doubt there are challenges,” he said. “How and where are you going to invest?”

See complete story in Friday's Observer