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La Pine leaders busy planning for future growth


La Pine has only been an incorporated city for about a dozen years, but of late it’s quickly becoming an even more popular place to live.

According to City Manager Cory Misley, part of the appeal is the fact that La Pine is a city in the Central Oregon area, a magnet for newcomers.

Current public projects include the Highway 97 streetscape project and Housing Works’ 42-townhome affordable housing project.

But Misley said Monday that maintaining the small-town feel is also important for La Pine. City officials also strive to include the public in the decision-making process.

“I think it’s emphasizing that growth and change is inevitable, but with them being a part of it, they can really help shape what that looks and feels like,” Misley said.

“We hear from people that they want different amenities, (such as) more things to do in the downtown area. We are proactively trying to set some of that in motion with our urban renewal district, with some construction we have going on, and you’re starting to see the commercial interest and development follow.”

Misley said part of the challenge is balancing the needs of current residents and people who could move to La Pine.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Anne Gawith said it’s exciting to see more businesses flock to the area and also become chamber members.

Since the beginning of the year, about 20 to 25 businesses have joined the chamber, many of them brand new to the area.

“I’ve been here almost 40 years, and I loved La Pine when I came here 40 years ago,” Gawith said. “I’ve loved it all these years, but I love the excitement of what’s happening now. I know in my heart of hearts that you can’t have a city that just stagnates. It will just dry up and blow away, and I don’t want to live in that kind of community.”

A new playground is located at Frontier Heritage Park, providing a safe and fun place for kids to play. A grant from Midstate Electric helped the La Pine Park and Recreation Foundation Board begin that process.

A couple of La Pine residents we talked to Monday said they are excited about the growth.

“I am for it,” Gary Mose said. “Yes, there are some people that say, ‘Oh, we want to keep it the little town, we don’t want it to grow.’ But growth is nice (and) growth never hurts anything.”

“It’s nice to have the new stores that have opened up, like the BI-Mart, Grocery Outlet, the Dollar Store and the Dollar General, so we don’t have to go into town,” Sharon Batson said. “The majority of the people in this area are older, retired people, so it makes it a lot easier.”

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