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.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Party and Joyride for Free with Cherriots on Saturday

It's here! The return of Saturday transit. Party with Cherriots and go ride the bus! Rides are free on Saturdays in September - all September! Check it out.

Larger map here! Hourly, and half-hourly routes
Event details:
We are having a party on Saturday, Sept. 7 on the North Block of the Downtown Transit Center from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Food Trucks:
Gourmet Hometown Heroes
Hooked On Food
Half Baked Eats & Sweets
Chez Alishon Mediterranean Bistro - Mobile Food Truck
On Any Sundae
Uncle Troy’s BBQ

Caesar The No Drama Llama
Balloon Guy - Antonio Sombrero
The Northwest Hub
DJ w/ music
Kid's Button Making
Cherriots information for riders
...and prizes!
For complete information on new routes and schedules, see here.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Art League, Ancestor to Art Association, Forms in 1919

The paper today has a piece on the new sculpture at Bush Park and the 100th anniversary of the Salem Art Association.

The SJ notes that
In 1919, a group of art enthusiasts came together to found the Salem Arts League, which would later be called the Salem Art Association.

Since then, they've seen many changes like being entrusted with operation of the Bush House Museum, relocating to a renovated horse and carriage barn now known as the Bush Barn Art Center and the addition of the annex.

"Sentinels" honors the people who helped the art association get to today. It's a contemporary piece featuring three components of varying heights made out of structural steel.

"The sentinels are looking to the future (and) represent those who have passed the baton over a hundred years," Burnett said.
October 8th, 1919
Indeed, on Tuesday, October 7th, 1919, the Salem Art League began at the Library.
That Salem's cultured life should keep abreast with its civic growth is the motive which is back of the Salem Art League, whose organization was begun Tuesday evening in the lecture room of tho Salem public library, when enthusiastic artists and art patrons of Salem assembled in first regular session.

This is the first, organization of its kind in the capital city, for although several clubs for the promotion of art have been formed their efforts have been restricted to one branch of art. The league will not only foster art, but will aid in advancing literature and music, as well.
Probably there would be something to say about the composition of the charter members. The League was overwhelmingly female, and it is significant that large numbers of women had found employment, advancement, satisfaction, and status during the war; their organizational skills and ambitions were being wasted now as the workforce ejected them, reverting to men returning from the military. In clubs they created new opportunities for themselves.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Riverbend Phase Two at Planning Commission Tonight

At the Planning Commission tonight the 3rd is a proposal for the second phase of a horizontally mixed-use project at Riverbend and Wallace Roads in West Salem.

Second phase to the north with apartments;
also expands the southern half shopping center
Just in general terms, this kind of thing has been envisioned for nearly 20 years in the West Salem plan.

This kind of thing is in our plans

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Carpenters', Street Car Men, and Printers' Unions Led Labor Day in 1919

100 years ago three Salem unions led the celebration.

August 30th, 1919, page six

Unions for carpenters, street car men, and printers
led the way. September 1st, 1919
But as Labor Day approached, indeed all through 1919, the rhetoric of the "Red Scare" was a potent force as Capital sought to diminish and control Labor's power. Governmental power was also brought to bear against strikers.

Front page, August 28th, 1919

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Peace Mosaic's Popularity Should Inform Community Conversation on the 25th

On the front page today is a nice story about more detail on the plan to relocate the Peace Mosaic from the Court Apartments at the YMCA to the new annex planned for the Carousel at Riverfront Park. It sounds like destiny:
The local architect firm working with the carousel couldn't believe it when measurements were compared. The back side of The Stables is the same length as the Peace Mosaic.

"It was like serendipitous," said Alan Costic, president of AC + Co Architecture | Community. "It just happens to fit, and we have a wall for it."
With talk about the mosaic, the recent bottle bill art, and Eye of Salem-Sauron at the Police Station, and the brand new piece at Bush Park, the City has also announced a "community conversation" about public art for September 25th. (They are asking for an RSVP; this helps with refreshment count, of course, but also may diminish the sense of "all are welcome.")

The Public Art Commission has seemed like they view themselves in a curatorial role, selecting "good" art to deploy. But they have not seemed like they had enough consideration for the public, who in general is not going to participate in any connoisseurship and who will ask of art very different question from the questions of artists, gallery-owners, curators, or artsy others. They have also seemed like they were bound to a destination model of driving, getting out of the car, and appreciating an instance of public art, and then driving away.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Anderson Sporting Goods Started 100 Years Ago

100 years ago a business many Salemites will remember started at 126 South Commercial Street.

Anderson Sporting Goods had its beginning when William E. Anderson was founding partner in a firm that purchased the Watt Shipp Company, at that time located in 126 South Commercial Street.

Commercial Street looking south from State Street circa 1910-15
Hauser Bros in 126 S. Commercial, two doors down from bank
(University of Oregon Library, click through to enlarge)
Before Ladd & Bush expanded in the 1960s rebuild, there was a continuous line of buildings on the east side of Commercial Street between Ferry and State Streets. Former partners Paul Hauser and Watt Shipp at different times had separate sporting goods stores in one of the storefronts at 126 South Commercial Street, two doors down from the corner bank entry.

Another view, this time with Hauser Bros only one door down
and the RH Hunter Electrical Supply
 in 126 S. Commercial (far right)
(Salem Library Historic Photos, and similar here)
Other storefronts on this block face had sporting goods stores, too. Hauser Bros used the storefront one door down also.*

Watt Shipp sells to what became Anderson Sporting Goods
(August 30th, 1919)
At any rate, in the late summer of 1919 Watt Shipp was at 126 South Commercial, and William Anderson, who had been I believe one of Shipp's employees, was a partner in buying him out as he moved into auto sales at the Valley Motor Company.

Salem Installs New Photo Speed Enforcement

Salem is extending photo red light enforcement to photo speed enforcement.

From the City of Salem:
Beginning September 1, motorists who exceed the speed limit while driving through high-volume intersections may be captured on camera and issued tickets. These new safety measures are designed to reduce crashes in and around intersections by encouraging drivers to slow down. Initially, Fisher Rd NE and Silverton Rd NE will have the new technology activated with other locations to be added at a later date....

Salem added photo enforcement cameras to three intersections in 2008. Since they were installed, Salem has seen a 92 percent decrease in traffic crashes at those locations. Later this year, the City will also add photo red-light cameras at Commercial and Madrona Ave. SE, Commercial Blvd. and Kuebler Blvd., and Center St and Hawthorne Ave NE.
A discussion this week in Willamette Week offers more detail on the reasons for photo speed enforcement:
Ray Thomas says the Portland Bureau of Transportation should erect speed cameras all over town.

"Fixed speed cameras are great," says Thomas, a lawyer who represents victims of car crashes. "They don't discriminate against any socioeconomic group or political profile and provide more deterrence than any other mechanism I know of."

PBOT agrees with him. In a report submitted this year, the bureau told state lawmakers, who greenlighted the cameras' installation in 2015, how well the cameras were working.

"Comparing the change among the 'before' speed study and the most recent speed counts, there is an overall 57 percent decrease in the number of cars traveling over the posted speed limit; [an] 85 percent decrease in numbers of drivers traveling more than 10 mph over the posted speed," the report said.
The other items in the City's press release have been mentioned here before, but this photo speed enforcement is new!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Old Mushroom Plant Redevelopment Finally at the Planning Commission

The plan to redevelop the old mushroom plant at State Street and Cordon Road, and bisected by the old Geer Line railroad alignment, is finally coming to the Planning Commission.

It's had a winding road and long history.

You might remember an early concept from the annexation back in 2010.

In 2016 water was an issue, and a commenter said
The issue that is concerning neighbors is actually the drainage from this property. Since it was used for agriculture for decades we know that insecticides and other chemicals were used. That contamination is likely still in the area and a creek runs through this property. Neighbors worry that it might be leaching into the creek. They also worry that digging on the property could also disturb the contamination and it will also go into the creek.
And earlier this year, from the same commenter, who has been following the project:
There was a proposal to build a large Planned Unit Development of over 800 row houses on more than 100 acres at the old Pictsweet property. Well, the plans have changed dramatically. Now the plan is not to build townhouses on skinny lots, but a more traditional single family houses on 3400 to 4500 square foot lots. Total number is down to 659 houses with a density of about 8 units per acre.
So after a few iterations of revision and adjustment, there is a firmer concept at the Planning Commission:

Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Sculpture at Bush Park May be a Dud

Council meets on Monday, and I'm not sure there's much to say.

On the Council agenda there are a couple of annexations. Maybe you will have thoughts on that. They look like moves to prepare for greenfield development on the edges of the city. In the information items there are approvals on some small plexes and one that is being appealed. And there's a small street vacation. Mostly the agenda items seem to be block-level things at the neighborhood level, and not things of larger city significance.

But there is some new public art in Bush Park, and let's talk about that instead!

"Sentinals" [sic?] by Devin Laurence Field
(See SAA's tweet and the FB post below)
Some first impressions:
  • What is it with the surveillance theme? The Eye of Salem-Sauron at the Police Station and now "Sentenals"/Sentinels? 
  • But watching isn't the first thing that came to mind. These look like structural steel from the Police Station or part of a shipwreck. They look like ruins. They're rusty!
  • Maybe they evoke Totem Poles, but how would that be appropriate in this context?
  • For a site near a child's playground, it's surprisingly inert and static, nothing that will evoke wonder, playful interpretation, or interaction with children.
  • Why here? How does this relate to Bush Park or the Bush family? It's like random art installation.
Detail of rust finish and the periodic squishing treatment
Over at the Oregon Artist Series they routinely link to more dynamic instances of public art from around the country. Why are recent installations here so dull or hermetic?

Anyway, it's hard to be excited by this. Have you been by it? Maybe you have a different interpretation that really brings it to life.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

City Fun Fact Misses Key Points

Is it worth criticizing a "fun fact," an element of whimsy in social media and public relations?

via Twitter
Yes, after going back and forth on it, I think it is. Because this is symptomatic of a great part of the problem and sheds more light than really was intended.

Lots of gravel and debris in the bike lane
on Front Street between State and Commercial
A couple of day ago while walking out of Minto Park on Front Street along Park Front and the rest of the Boise project, an adult man with all the bike gear crowded me on the sidewalk. It wasn't a zoomingly rude pass, it wasn't scorching, but it wasn't a generous pass, either. He was claiming his space on the sidewalk and I, on foot, was in the way. I pointed to the bike lane on Front Street (pictured), and he said something like "it's tough to bike in the street."

Friday, August 23, 2019

Celebrate Peaches with a Ride in the Waldo Hills this Weekend

Early Crawfords seemed to have disappeared (August 25th, 1919)
See the OSU pamphlet "Selecting Peach and Nectarine Varieties"
for current popular choices in commercial orchards

Have you been eating peaches this summer? Aren't they great this year?! It hasn't been hot, just warm, and rounds of Springcrest, Canadian Harmony, and Suncrest have all been luscious with good flavor and refreshing acidity. Rarely have the different varieties offered such consistent pleasure across the whole season. It's a glorious peach summer! (Maybe the grapes too like this consistent and not-too-hot sun.)

The Salem Bicycle Club's Peach of a Century Ride is this weekend, and if you are looking for a fun, but long, ride through the rolling Waldo Hills, the weather looks terrific - upper 70s with a few clouds.

Day-of-Ride registration (for $60) starts at 7:30am on Sunday the 25th. (Full description and links to maps and forms here.)
Each route starts and ends at Chemeketa Community College. The Full Century route is challenging with some steep hills. The 75-Mile route also involves a significant of amount climbing. The Metric Century route offers flat to rolling terrain with some moderate hills....The routes follow low-volume roads past the farm fields of the Willamette Valley, through forested foothills and rural communities east of Salem....

There are three rest stops on the 100-Mile route and two on the 66 and 76-Mile routes. All rest stops have food, water, sports drink, restrooms and friendly volunteers. The weather is typically mild to warm in the late summer although we have experienced rain during past events. Bring extra layers just in case. The 100-Mile route goes through Jefferson, Stayton, Sublimity, and Silverton. The Metric Century and 76-Mile routes visit Jefferson and Stayton. All riders must finish by 6:00 p.m. A sag vehicle will sweep both courses at day's end.
Last week the Club celebrated their 50th anniversary with cake, ice cream, and a couple of rides out to Willamette Mission State Park. If you are not a member, and long rides are your thing, consider joining them and keeping things going for another 50 years.

Historical Addendum

Well, it turns out "Indian Hill Farm" is a little interesting!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Safe Routes Wins State Grant for new Position in Salem Area

Earlier this year you might recall that local Safe Routes to Schools efforts had secured a grant for an enhanced crosswalk near Liberty School. Last week, in a letter to the MPO and in the packet for next week's meeting on Tuesday the 27th, the State announced that the local application for a three year non-infrastructure grant had been approved.

Announcement letter
This funding is the biggest part of crossing off the first step in the new plan.

Chief Goal: Hire a full-time coordinator,
then install programming at four schools
Back in February there seemed to be some uncertainty about where any hire might live, who actually was going to be the employer, but it sure looks like Cherriots will be that home. (Update: Nope, the COG/MPO will be the employer.) There are details to work out, and the formal grant application will disclose more of them. This will be exciting to follow. Safe Routes has not yet made their own announcement about this, and they may share additional details when they do. (We'll update here as appropriate.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Open Streets Salem Moved to May 2020, Kuebler Crosstown Route Proposed; DAB Notes on Parklets and Crosswalks

The Cherriots Board and the City's Downtown Advisory Board meet on Thursday the 22nd, and there are a few things to note in passing.

Postponed now to May 2020
Communication on Open Streets Salem has been pretty lousy, but perhaps also that testifies to low demand. There don't seem to be many people missing it or screaming about it. Buried in the Trip Choice update is notice that Cherriots proposes to hold Open Streets Salem now in May 2020, keyed to National Bike Month and the Bike More Challenge. (Entire Board agenda and packet here.)

They're also starting to analyze a proposal for a new crosstown route to link the south Commercial Walmart, Lancaster Drive, the potential new Costco site, and the Mill Creek Corporate Center (with Amazon, etc.) by Kuebler Boulevard. This will be interesting to follow.

Investigating a new crosstown route on Kuebler
Not on the agenda at all, but happy to note, is that it turns out it's surprisingly easy to reach the beach by bus. Biking and increasingly walking are the focus here, and transit is not central. Here's something you might already know. A friend of the blog pointed out that bus service to the beach runs three times a day. I had no idea. It was great. The casinos and tribes almost certainly subsidize the ride, and it's not expensive. If you don't want to drive and can tolerate some scheduling, it's a great option. Both Lincoln and Tillamook Counties run connecting transit from Lincoln City. Conveniently, the McMenamins' Lighthouse Pub is right there, and makes any wait quite pleasant.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Overruns on Police Station were Always Predictable

Yesterday Salem Reporter had a piece on the cost inflation at the new Police Station.

"'Snowballing-out-of-control': How the price rose by millions on Salem police headquarters" is interesting in many ways, but here it's worth focusing on the City's admission that "the original estimates were too low...[and] not high enough."

The implied context might be a little disingenuous, however, and the story might dwell too much on the City's perspective and not enough on criticism during the process as well as the academic study of estimating and project management. There should be less surprise about the overruns.

An early concept used only surface parking, not a structured garage,
and was for a 75,000 square foot building.
(Council worksession presentation, June 3rd, 2013)
The focus on palateableness for voters may cast the City in a light a little too charitable. During the debates earlier this decade, citizen criticism was not that the "estimates are too high," as if the project had bad or inaccurate estimating, but that the project was too big and too fancy. It was about scope, not estimating. Criticisms of the cost sometimes also included proposals for cheaper and smaller construction, not quibbles over the accuracy of estimates for the bigger and fancier proposal. Criticism was of the underlying plan, and some of the modeling behind it, not of the quality or accuracy of estimating on the plan once baked. The quote from the City seems to retcon the nature of the criticism.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Big Church in Grant, Scott Obituary - Newsbits

The SJ usually publishes things online in advance of the stories hitting print - "digital first," goes the slogan. This morning there is a fascinating piece in the paper, but not yet online.

It's a long piece on the property Salem Alliance Church owns and has recently purchased in the Grant neighborhood.

It touches on church's stated purpose of managing parking, but it also indirectly looks at the property as an investment strategy, at gentrification and potentials for displacement, at the scope of property off the tax rolls and the loss of revenue to the City and other entities, and just so many other themes. It was prompted, obviously, by the debate over the temporary Library site.

(The church is also landlord for the bike shop Northwest Hub.)

We need more of this kind of story. The swaths of property owned by institutions or large private entities and the interests of their owners together profoundly shape neighborhoods and the whole of the city. These are forces that direct policy, but which rarely do so in overt, explicit ways. They operate silently, in back rooms, unspoken. These are subterranean currents that too often are invisible, and the citizens then wonder why things are the way they are.

It's a great article, and you should read it.

Also in the paper is a note about a life well lived.

David Scott was the son of Harry Scott, whom we know as the founder and namesake of Scott's Cycle.

Here's a "bouncy motorcycle sidecar"
(March 19th, 1921)

Postscript, August 19th

The piece is published online today, and it's worth reading in full.

Here's another clip that really dovetails with Susann's comment below. What is the emphasis on housing for cars relative to housing for people? Tying "servanthood" to parking seems like it might be a kind of of idolatry and is something that deserves more thought. And why is pointing out that "the streets were for public parking" a bad thing?

I know the church has the clinic and does things for and serves people in need. But the way we treat parking elevates it way too high, and our rhetoric and attitudes are distorted. We need a different moral framework around mobility.

This is a problematic notion of "servanthood," isn't it?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

City Council, August 19th - Our Salem Work Session

Council meets on Monday with the Planning Commission for a Work Session on "Our Salem," and the Staff Presentation seems a little shallow.

Slide Deck cover
The next phase, "visioning"
There's not really any meaty slides to clip.

It's very much an overview oriented to people who might not be following the process very closely.

But wait. This is City Council and the Planning Commission. Shouldn't they be assumed to know more than ordinary citizens who might not even have heard yet of the process and plan?

The tone and implied audience for the presentation just seems off. There's not very much work in it, and instead it reads as an introduction to Our Salem, one that assumes the Council and Commission don't know very much about it.

There are also a couple of notable omissions.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Demolition on Pringle Creek, Marion Car Park Bricks, Paving Coverage - Bits

Have you walked by the demolition and daylighting project for Pringle Creek in former Boise site?

View of Pringle Creek/Boise slab demolition (August 14th)
I don't know if it's super interesting, but it is at least a little. (Previous notes here.) More interesting is the prospect of progress on a path connection to the park. The City recently said
We are also exploring potential pathway connections to Riverfront Park and Minto Island Pedestrian Bridge through this area.
But they've been saying that for a long time. A path connection has been in the last position after the other elements of the Boise project were redeveloped - the apartments, then the office building, and finally the nursing home, which hasn't broken ground yet - and constructed; it should have been first, really.

The railroad has also been a problem. They have not been keen on even a grade-separated crossing or tunnel under the trestle. This is a concrete example of the way railroads create barriers and make it difficult for cities and their citizens.
A train, the creek,and the concrete cap in 2014
Here's a view from the other side, and up above, the City published the other day. Since the area is really off-limits, this is a good use for drone imagery. (Though the apartment residents might not be so happy - privacy is a real concern.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I-5 Chemawa Interchange Plan at OTC This Week

The Oregon Transportation Commission meets in Ashland this week, and on the consent calendar is the I-5 Chemawa/Lockhaven interchange.

Formally it's a "Resolution to amend the Oregon Highway Plan and adopt the Interstate 5 /Chemawa Road Interchange Area Management Plan and Alternate Mobility Targets."

This process has been percolating for several years now (see the December 2012 date on the plan, for example), and it's late to have much to say. The plan mostly concerns Keizer, also, and following the City of Keizer closely has generally been beyond our scope here. So this is "Johnny come lately" for sure. You may know much more about the plan.

Phases for the preferred alternative (click to enlarge)
From an urban standpoint, widening Lockhaven, extending Verda Lane and Tepper Drive, seem like the big pieces. Both these and the highway widening would induce trips, also, and should be seen as inconsistent with greenhouse and climate goals. But of course that's not how ODOT rolls, and probably not how Keizer rolls. The "auxiliary lanes" for the highway at least superficially resemble those in the I-5 Rose Quarter project, and it would be interesting also to learn if Chemawa School has any concerns about increased particulates.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Technical Committee Continues Vetting Projects for 2021-2026: At the MPO - updated

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets this afternoon, Tuesday the 13th, and they are continuing to assess the project applicants for funding in the 2021-2026 cycle. After the meeting, they look to publish a map and with it to invite public comment and voting with social media-style "likes."

After a preliminary pass or two of scoring, here's the project ranking as a "early draft" assessment (here are notes on the very first whack at the list and earlier notes on the set of initial applications, so this may be the second pass) :
  1. Fixed-Route Transit Vehicle Replacement
  2. McGilchrist Street SE - 22nd Street Phase
  3. Pedestrian Safety - Improved Crossings
  4. Commercial Street - Vista to Ratcliff
  5. Salem Area Safe Routes to School Non-Infrastructure Program
  6. Center St. Lancaster Dr to 45th Pl NE, Ph 2
  7. State St. Lancaster Dr NE to 44th Ave, Ph 1
  8. Delany Rd. Battle Creek Bridge to 9th Ct. (Turner)
  9. Connecticut Av. Macleay to Rickey W Side Bike/Ped
  10. Lancaster Dr Ph2. State to Monroe Reconstr.
  11. River Rd N/McNary Estates Dr Project Design
  12. Turner Road Downtown Urban Upgrade
  13. Orchard Heights Road NW - Sidewalks and Pavement R& R
  14. Broadway Street NE @ Hood Street NE
The initial scoring tabulation (click to enlarge)
The first five seem reasonable, but then #6 and #7 look all wrong. It's like, "well, we gotta fit in the county projects somewhere..."

But the gigantification of Center and State Streets in those project is just totally inconsistent with our urgent needs on greenhouse gases and also with the City's recent State Street Corridor plan.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Downtown Utility Wraps Feature Historic and Interpretive Panels

Have you checked out the interpretive panels mounted on the utility vaults around town? Especially downtown there is the start of a good density of historical markers, and if you take the time to imagine it, it's possible to extend yourself not just in space but also in time. The possibilities are very rich!

On the panels there does not seem to be any coherent narrative yet, and maybe there shouldn't be. History is always fragmentary, we can't know everything, and it is also multiple and contested. Still, there are places where more interpretation might be helpful.

But overall, the utility wrap project is great to see.

Probably the most important of the interpretive panels are ones related to our Chinatown. It's a part of Salem history that is not told in any detail, and what details we have had, up until the work on the shrine in Pioneer Cemetery, have relied on mid-century accounts which were limited and themselves biased. This telling of history is a chance to make visible what had been invisible, and more importantly make visible what had been deliberately erased in some cases.

"Chinese Funerary Traditions
at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery"
In Pioneer Cemetery, on a vault that really looks out of place, an instance of technology and infrastructure out of character with the other monuments and graves, there is a moving pair of panels on burials and funerary practices. There are so many layers of loss and deliberate forgetting here, and it is fit to have started the recovery and remembering project.