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Lakeside sign

Some of those at a mid-January community meeting are saying this Lakeside sign needs repainting and perhaps a better, different angle to attract all tourists, not simply fishermen. 

LAKESIDE — Let's boost Lakeside.

This is the basic message coming from a small but determined group of volunteers who love their town. 

Blume Bauer and Jane Mathews have teamed up to make the project theirs. 

Mayor Dean Warner spoke with Bauer and she said the Main Street concept came from him. 

Bauer reflected a bit, saying she's more of a big dreamer thinker and that Mathews is "more of the cross our t's and dot our i's" in thinking. 

About 40 residents turned out for the first Main Street meeting Jan. 17.

"It was really really good," Bauer said of the turnout, saying she was pleased with residents' enthusiasm. Bauer, who's lived in the community a year and a few months, said some may think "Oh she just wants to change things."

"You know, it's a great town already. It just needs a little gussying up." 

At one point in the 1940s, the small coastal community saw the likes of Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Lily Pons. Tourism and fishing were big draws. 

"Roy Currier was the one who brought them all in. He was a director/producer. It (Lakeside) was kind of hidden," she said. He built what's called Currier's Village. The Village no longer exists but in its place are McKay's and the Lakeshore Lodge. 

Bauer said the lakes provide fun for all sorts of water recreation, including water skiing but there's a perception that "they don't have enough businesses to go to." So she said while a husband is out water skiing, a wife could be in town "enjoying some second hand shops and some bookstores. And I think the townspeople would enjoy those things too. Not just the tourists." 

Organizers are calling the campaign the Lakeside Revitalization Project. 

Citizens came up with a list of projects they'd like to accomplish.

"Many topics blended the same thing," Bauer said. "There were a good five or six projects that everybody wanted." 

"So one is signage improvement coming in from the highway," she said. 

Two signs need work along Highway 101, one headed south and the other which states "Get Hooked On Lakeside." 

The sign at the south end, which states "Welcome To Lakeside" and features scenery of trees and the lake, is fading and there are some community painters who've said they'll help splash on some new color to it. 

Additionally the "Get Hooked On Lakeside" sign is not as big as it could be. Bauer said not everyone fishes. There's water skiing and swimming too. 

Lakeside also has a challenge like its neighbor to the north, Winchester Bay. Despite having a sign or signs next to Highway 101, not everyone heads into town or even really know the community's there. 

"We're also looking at some sidewalks," Bauer said. Specific areas are from North Lake Road into town and from the county park at Wulfy Beach into Lakeside. "That's our initial idea for where the sidewalks would go. Of course we'll have to see about building and zoning and stuff." 

"Everybody would also like a community space or a community building," said Bauer, who worked for Kodak company as a district manager and on the national marketing team. She's also owned her business as a graphic designer and as an artist 24 years. In more recent years, she managed the national non-profit Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association. This is for those who are Middle Eastern and North African dancers. This was originally created for fair and equal treatment dancers in restaurants and other venues. When she came on board, the group was more for educational purposes.

Residents also want work to be done on space behind city hall. The park needs to be drained again and then a French drain installed.

Mathews pointed to another community desire — that of beautifying store fronts. 

"Yeah, facade improvements is something we'd definitely like to do more of," Blume said. 

Reedsport has a Main Street program and one of several facets of this consists of flower boxes. Mathews likes the idea of flower boxes and other fresh looks for the town. 

"Or even more greenery. It doesn't have to be flowers," Bauer said. 

Lakeside is by no means unique in terms of its interest in what Main Street can offer. Just up the road is Reedsport, which has had a Main Street program several years. 

Mathews is also a newcomer to Lakeside. She will have lived in the community two years this May. Mathews worked as the assistant director for customer service for a Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County. Before that, she worked in customer service for the city of San Diego. 

According to Oregon.gov, Oregon Main Street "provides assistance, training and technical services to communities who want to strengthen, preserve, and revitalize their historic downtown commercial districts." 

"The program is a locally driven process following the proven Main Street Approach, which is a practical and comprehensive model capitalizing on downtown's unique assets," the author wrote. "The goal is to build high quality, livable and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon's economy while maintaining a sense of place."

Personnel from the State Historic Preservation Office, from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, run Oregon Main Street. 

According to the information provided at the Oregon Main Street link at Oregon.gov, the strategy "has been implemented in over 2,200 cities and towns in 40 states across the nation with the help of the National Main Street Center and statewide downtown revitalization programs." 

So what about the cost for making these Lakeside dreams a reality? 

"You know we haven't even gotten to that point yet," Bauer said. "We haven't contacted contractors yet."

But she said Coos County has it in their funding to pave North Lake Road. She said drainage will need to be installed and then sidewalks placed over a ditch drain. 

For now the biggest needs organizers have are volunteers and monetary donations from businesses "to actually start the momentum." 

"I just want people to know it's a long-term project but that we want people to see results," Mathews said.

For more information, call Lakeside City Hall at 541-759-3011. They can also email lakesidemainstreet@gmail.com

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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Umpqua Post Editor