Sunday, September 25, 2011

SCAN and 125 Neighbors Say: Don't Vacate, Celebrate - City Council, September 26

City Council on Monday brings, I think, the final note here on what may be a Quixotic quest for the City to try to make it easier for themselves and for an effective multi-modal future.

Arthur Moore was a City Councilor and prominent bike dealer in Salem. He opened a bike shop in 1912, built the Moore block at 241 High Street in 1924, and died in 1949. He is also buried in City View Cemetery.

Surely he would say to us today - "Build more Bikeways!"

The chief item of interest on City Council agenda to people who bike is the public hearing on the proposal to vacate a segment of alley north of City View and Pioneer Cemetery.

On the one hand, vacating the segment of alley just probably complicates and increases the cost of planning a future path alignment if the City decides to do it. It wouldn't be a show-stopper. On the other hand, if there's no compelling present need to vacate the alley, why do so if it might be used in the future?

One of the main arguments against a path is that increasing traffic through the cemeteries could bring an increase in vandalism. This is an argument that should be taken seriously. There are important spiritual and historical reasons to want to preserve the cemetery grounds against desecration.

But I would say that because we don't remember people like Watt Shipp, Arthur Moore, and Grover Terrell, or even people like William H. Willson, we should give very serious thought to the ways that creating a signed path connection, rich with historical interpretive markers, could help increase the eyeballs and ears on the cemeteries, and help Salemites learn more about the heritage contained in the cemeteries. There's got to be a way to celebrate that history!

And while the Transportation Enhancement program's future is very much in question, if it continues forward, a project like this would look on the surface to meet TE requirements very nicely. Of 12 key "eligible activities," a path connection could meet:
1. Provision of facilities for pedestrians and bicycles.
5. Landscaping and other scenic beautification.
6. Historic preservation.
10. Archaeological planning and research.
12. Establishment of transportation museums.
So there that is.

Included in the staff report is Bonnie Heitsch's lengthy and detailed analysis in opposition to the vacation. It is worth reading itself, but perhaps the most interesting part of it is the petition signed by "over 125" neighbors of the cemeteries who also oppose the vacation. (The addresses are in the public record, but I scrubbed them anyway.)

She also notes that the neighborhood association SCAN unanimously supported further consideration of a path connection and is not in favor of the vacation at this time.

Curiously, she also claims that the developer at one time supported the connection in 2005, which would be an interesting flip-flop!

(For background on the vacation, including the first staff report and recent history in the 1980s, see here and here. For more on some of the historic bicycling Salemites, see here and here. And again, Heitsch's letter has invaluable perspective on the recent history.)

Other Matters

I guess while we're on the topic of history, it's interesting to note that one of the items concerns a Preserve Oregon grant of $20,000 to go towards the total cost of about $50,000 to repair the foundation under Deepwood.

More airport stuff, an amendment to a Connect Oregon grant agreement.

A partial year assessment on the downtown Economic Improvement District - but the big news will be the selection of the administrator.

And second readings on the ordinances for bank drive-throughs in the historic district, and the Neighborhood Center Mixed Use zone.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well. According to the Statesman, the airport "stuff" is quite large, and I'm sorry my skim of it didn't discern this:

"The city was awarded a $2.6 million Connect Oregon II grant to help extend the runway and taxiways at the airport. Other funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 2008, the Oregon Department of Transportation awarded the city a grant to extend the runway up to 1,000 feet for a cost of $3.25 million.

Since that time, the Federal Aviation Administration justified a 1,200-foot expansion of the runway, and the project scope has been expanded to extend the runway to 7,000 feet for a cost of approximately $11 million."

Anonymous said...

McNary Field of Dreams. Build it and they will come.

Brandon Filbert said...

The airport seems to be a sponge for the energy that could be spent on useful innovation for long-term livability (and thus, competitiveness). Is this lack of vision the result of Salem being a "one industry" town?

Anonymous said...


It is, especially when the one industry is politics and everyone is looking for something to hang their hat on for the next election.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Council voted 8-0 to proceed with the vacation. Only 2 people spoke in favor of it, but 9 adults and 2 very charming children spoke either in favor of delay or against vacation.

If it were unquestionably a "bad idea," it would be easy to understand Council voting against the public sentiment. But since there was no downside to a simple delay, it is very difficult to understand the disregard Council held for the public.

Very dispiriting.

And so we chase after the McNary Field (of dreams).