After ending its agreement with the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce in February, the Roseburg City Council awarded the city’s visitor services contract to Roseburg-based marketing company Anvil Northwest on Monday.

The three-year contract funded by the city’s hotel/motel tax will provide Anvil with between $450,000-$550,000 per year to conduct tourism marketing, brand development and visitor information services for Roseburg.

Anvil and Eugene-based marketing company AHM Brands were selected as finalists by a six-member city review team. Community Development Director Stuart Cowie said the review committee chose Anvil because its proposed budget was less than AHM’s, Anvil was more local and it was willing to explore maintaining the visitor center.

City officials discussed the visitor center being closed, but a day after the meeting, chamber CEO Debbie Fromdahl emailed the city stating the visitor center is still open on weekdays.

City Councilor Ashley Hicks condemned the visitor center being closed ahead of summer.

The chamber was one of four proposals submitted for the new contract.

The chamber had the contract since 2002. City councilors raised concerns about the chamber’s online and social media tourism marketing presence when they ended the contract earlier this year. After the chamber’s contract was renewed in 2017, city councilors considered commissioning a study to evaluate how effectively the chamber used the funds, but the City Council decided against the study.

On Monday, the City Council also had a first reading of its land use development plan called the Pine Street Overlay.

The plan includes a package of development regulations aimed at making the area along the Southeast Pine Street multi-use path a commercial hub and community gathering place while maintaining the historic aesthetic.

City officials hope to boost tourism, attract new businesses and make one of the city’s only commercially-zoned places along the riverfront more walkable.

With buildings on the national historic registry, railroad property and the river nearby, the area has long been subject to an unusual number of zoning regulations that have prevented development, according to Cowie.

The city has been working on the plan with Portland-based consulting firm Urbsworks for a year and a half using a grant from Oregon’s Transportation and Growth Program.

The plan would only apply to new developments, and landowners who don’t wish to change their properties are not required to, Cowie said.

“What we’re doing is paving the way for future developers,” he said.

This fall, residents in the area expressed concerns to city officials about how new developments would affect tax rates.

The City Council also adopted the city’s 2019-20 budget Monday. Total requirements in the budget are $73.6 million.

Additionally, the councilors moved to renew its parking enforcement contract with the Downtown Roseburg Association. The DRA requested the city approve a $10,000 reduction in the annual fee it pays to the city due to “employee turnover and unanticipated legal expenditures,” Cowie said.

The association is facing a lawsuit from its former director, Alyssa McConnel, who said she was fired in retaliation for protected whistleblowing activities.

The City Council also authorized city staff to apply for an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grant to reconstruct a damaged 225-foot section of multi-use path north of Deer Creek.

Max Egener can be reached at megener@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4217. Or follow him on Twitter @maxegener.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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