With eight proposals to choose from, the Bingen City Council has selected Portland consultant Cogan, Owens & Cogan LLC to oversee the city's "community action plan" process.
"We signed the contract Friday," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "They will start as soon as possible."
Prigel said he had worked with the company during the State Route 35 bridge feasibility study, and was impressed with the firm's work.
"They did a good job with that, and I think they'll do a real good job for us. They will mesh with the community well," Prigel said.
Prigel noted that seven years ago, when the last community plan was created, the public turnout was strong.
Council member Barbara Hylton pointed out that the process was expected to be wrapped up before Thanksgiving, and questioned why the city did not hire a facilitator earlier in the year.
"Is there a reason we didn't start our process sooner?" asked Hylton. "Is it costing more to make the process move more quickly?"
"I don't think so," responded Prigel. "But it may cut the thoroughness of some of the research."
The community action plan process is designed to set objectives for what local citizens would like to see happen in Bingen over the next five years. The previous plan, created in 1998, set several high-profile goals that were subsequently met, including: a new fire station, playground set for Daubenspeck Park, new sidewalks for Humboldt Street, and the downtown beautification project.
Prigel reiterated that he wanted this year's process to be wrapped up by Thanksgiving if possible.
"It won't be the end of the world if we have a meeting after Thanksgiving, but after that, as it starts getting closer to Christmas, the public is not really interested in going to meetings," he explained.
Hylton said she hoped there would be at least two public meetings, to allow citizens an added opportunity to offer their input.
"I tend to agree, I think two public forums would be better," Prigel said.
The contract with the agency, for an amount "not to exceed" $15,000, was approved in a 4-0 vote.
"I'm looking forward to this," Prigel said. "Who knows what will come out of it."
The date for the first public planning meeting in Bingen has not yet been scheduled.