Monday, September 16, 2019

Clinic Monoculture is Defeating Edgewater Mixed Use Zone

Do you remember the offer to give away a cottage cluster just off Edgewater Street, on the corner of Gerth Avenue and Second Street NW?

The cluster of nine cottages and courtyard at center
The plan for that lot's redevelopment is out and will be at the Planning Commission on October 1st.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Salem Federal Art Center was a New Deal Project; Think about a Green New Deal Now

There's a nice piece in the Sunday paper today about the Salem Federal Art Center at the tail of the Great Depression and the run up to World War II.

Salem Federal Art Center at the old high school
(From a history of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis)

in the Sunday paper
While the piece acknowledges it as a New Deal program, it may not give sufficient weight to the context of the Depression, Keynesian stimulus in New Deal programming and employment, and the politics of it all. Instead it's framed as more of a local story in the history of arts groups and arts education. That's not at all wrong, of course, but the story isn't just about plucky locals and their love for the arts. There is more to it, and some of it more radical.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Falcons on the Union St RR Bridge: Summer's Grace Note

In August, every time I crossed the Union Street Railroad Bridge in the evening I saw one or two Peregrine Falcons.

Equally, I noticed the lack of Pigeons and their encrustations of guano on the bridge deck and beams.

I think these two things are connected!

This was one of the most wonderful details of summer this year.

I hope there's enough food for them to make residence here. It is an amazing thing and sign of improved river health to see Eagles, Osprey, the occasional Red Tail and other hawk, and now Peregrine Falcons along the river.

I don't have a long lens and fancy camera, so these are from the point-and-shoot and its limited telephoto zoom, much too small. Maybe a serious birder with the Audubon Society will publish better pictures some time. At the beginning of Summer, when the birds were younger, they did publish one, but I haven't seen any since, and there hasn't seemed to be much talk about them. (There seems to be a bias for birds in "nature" at the wildlife refuges, or even in back yards, but not so much on buildings and in the distinctly urban landscape.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Leader of Failed CRC Tapped as new ODOT Director

Well, on the surface this sure looks like a classic Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Epic Fail.

From the ODOT press release:
On Tuesday, the Oregon Transportation Commission offered the position of ODOT director to Kris Strickler, who is currently Oregon’s Highway Division administrator. If Strickler accepts the OTC’s offer and is confirmed by the Oregon Senate, he will become ODOT’s 12th director. The commission decided to extend the offer to Strickler during a Tuesday afternoon meeting held by phone. The decision culminates a six-month national search for the next director by the commission. Strickler would succeed Matt Garrett, who served as ODOT director from 2005 to 2019....

Strickler brings to the position 20 years of experience on Oregon and Washington transportation issues.

In 2018, he became administrator for ODOT’s Highway Division, which oversees the design, construction and maintenance of Oregon’s highway system. Prior to that time, he was Southwest Region administrator for the Washington Department of Transportation and before that he was director of the Columbia River Crossing bridge project. He has also worked on transportation projects for various private engineering firms.
The CRC cost around $200 million and delivered nothing.

It was a giant boondoggle of epic proportion.

To understand this, then, as qualification for leading ODOT says something very retrograde and autoist about ODOT's future.

The Street Trust sent out a release fully panning the offer and prospective appointment:
There is nothing in Strickler’s experience that suggests he is prepared to lead this shift. He played a key role in the largest failed highway expansion project the Portland area has seen--the Columbia River Crossing. He offered virtually no substance in his presentation to a group of stakeholders who got to meet with three top candidates for the ODOT job.

The OTC ran a recruitment process that attracted talent from around the nation. There were two excellent choices for the job. Today, the OTC failed to select either of these candidates.
As others comment and react there may be more to say.

Monday, September 9, 2019

George Putnam Assumes Control of Capital Journal in 1919

Here's an anniversary worth noticing. As Gatehouse and Gannett merge and continue to strip-mine local newspapers, and Salem Reporter works to develop a newish digital model, exactly 100 years ago one of the most important newspaperman in Salem history, George Putnam, purchased the Capital Journal. It was announced on September 8th, 1919.

Putnam Center at Willamette University
is named after George Putnam
As founder of the Statesman, and for his larger place in Salem history, Asahel Bush might be the greatest, but he didn't own his paper for nearly as long as Putnam owned the Journal. On longevity at the newspaper Putnam wins then, and he also engaged a deeply important moral issue in the second KKK of the 1920s, and wins on that also. During Putnam's heyday, Charles Sprague at the Statesman was a worthy rival, and we should probably give more attention to the Putnam-Sprague competition also. Putnam belongs with them as one of our giants in local journalism.

September 8th, 1919
From the Oregon Encyclopedia:
George Putnam was the epitome of the fighting editor during the Progressive era in Oregon. His battles with an entrenched political machine in Medford cost him a night in jail, a libel conviction, and physical assaults. A small and nonviolent man, Putnam announced that “open season for editors has ended as far as [this] editor is concerned, and the closed season is on.” He bought a revolver, placed it on his desk, and the assaults ended....

In 1919, Putnam sold the Medford paper to purchase the Salem Capital-Journal, so he was a new editor in the capital city when the Ku Klux Klan began efforts to dominate Oregon politics. Putnam immediately became the state’s strongest newspaper opposition, ridiculing the secret society and its “senseless and silly public appearances in nightgown regalia.” His ridicule extended to fellow editors, particularly in Portland, for timidity in facing the KKK....

Putnam sold the Capital-Journal to Bernard Mainwaring in 1953 but continued to write a personal column until his death on August 18, 1961, in a fire that destroyed his Salem house. The paper was sold to Gannett Newspaper Company in 1973 and combined with the Oregon Statesman to create the Salem Statesman-Journal.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

City Council, September 9th - Salem Heights Resolution and Fairview Appeal

Council meets on Monday, and the appeal of the plan for "The Woods" at the Fairview project will get the most attention.

There is also progress on a new sidewalk on the slope along Rosemont Avenue in West Salem as it goes up the bluff.

Rosemont sidewalk, retaining wall, pipe barrier fence
On Rosemont the sidewalk has been deteriorating, the old pipe barrier is rickety and has been hit by drivers several times, and the retaining wall is sinking. The whole thing needs work. There is also the enormous intersection with Piedmont, and the total effect surely induces speeding, hence the impacts to the pipe barrier. Council will approve acquisition of right-of-way and easements for the project.

Though we are on the 2020 CIP now,
this last appears in the 2018 CIP
Hopefully they will also include speed calming treatments and appropriate separation between cars and the sidewalk so that speeding motorists cannot crash the sidewalk easily. But the entry in the 2018 CIP does not appear to include any of these things. This is also an example of the disconnect between the way funds are programmed and the actual year of construction.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Bush Park Terrace Concept should Revive Historic Carriage Way

Over at the Mission Street Parks Conservancy, they just announced a proposal to
make several improvements to an area immediately east and south of the Bush House conservatory, including the nearby parking lot.
From the concept announcement (carriage way note added)
They identify "the neglected area between the conservatory and the parking lot" and propose changes to make it more attractive, more active, and more useful.

For connectivity, the concept appears to focus on the path skirting the parking lot down to the derby track. (Mainly phase III on the site plan map.)

But one tantalizing note asks if a different path segment should be continued.