I am sorry to hear that the small square at Broadway and Willamette will possibly be replaced by a commercial building. Since this square is, I believe, the only hard-surfaced square in Eugene’s downtown, it would seem a very unfortunate decision. Most cities value and preserve their public places.
An important value of an urban center is its social, political and economic availability to all its citizens. Cities need places where everyone can meet, discuss and learn from each other. It is hard to conceive a successful town where there is no central public place for citizens to gather.
The square in question is all that Eugene has been able to manage, and now it is threatened by decisions that do not take into consideration the needs of all Eugene citizens. If the square is not as good as it could be, then make it better. Don’t destroy a valuable place in the downtown for everyone, in order to benefit a few people.
In order to work well as a square there must be support from adjacent businesses. Shops and restaurants should open directly onto the square to activate it. Active squares that provide residents reasons to use the square will stimulate a mix of people and much more usage.
Some of the blank walls adjacent to the square should be opened up with windows and doors to encourage interaction with the square and increase usage. The city with its shop-front program could help defray the modest cost to building owners. This example in Eugene demonstrates the importance of good government — to solve problems with imagination and consideration for the welfare of the whole community’s interests.
I understand some people think that the space is too small to be viable as a square. This is nonsense. Squares are often quite small, smaller than the square in question, and can still be attractive and viable. Eugene might well someday make a larger square for the downtown, but this does not make less valuable the existing central square. It is fortunate that this place was set aside by previous city governments to offer the opportunity to make Eugene a better place. Please do not squander this opportunity. Imagine how to make it better for all citizens of Eugene.