Efforts are underway to vet out the concept of a downtown plaza as a public gathering place and more importantly, as an economic driver for downtown revitalization.Friday will see a team headed to Portland. The Rose City is known to have world-renowned public spaces like Pioneer Courthouse Square, but they also have a number of public spaces that are unsuccessful in that they have not stimulated investment around their edges and are often beset by undesirable activity. Unfortunately some are already predicting that outcome for Yakima’s effort. (Let’s prove them wrong!)

George Crandall, Yakima’s original consultant and master plan developer from the firm of Crandall Arambula, will lead the team on a tour of downtown Portland's public spaces to show firsthand what makes them succeed or fail.

Afterward, Yakima’s explorers will visit Lake Oswego to investigate traffic calming and medians. The tour will leave Yakima at 7 a.m. and will plan on arriving back in Yakima by 7 p.m.

Additional tours are planned for Missoula, Mont., on June 4-5 and also for the Medford and Bend, Ore., areas on June 18-19.

These visits will go a long way toward providing a vision for parking and retail development possibilities that will make or break the project. Stay tuned!

Reinhold Thiele/Thiele/Getty Images