Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Sense on Pioneer Cemetery Alley Prevails at Council

Huzzah!  Though the process was Byzantine and opaque, even sometimes to Councilors, good sense won out at Council last night, and Council voted for a reasonable compromise decision on the alley by the cemetery.

Councilor Sheronne Blasi addressing the motion
After testimony and wrangling, Councilor Sheronne Blasi offered a motion to vacate the alley and retain a pedestrian easement across it.

It is important to note that no gate and no pathway connection suddenly springs into existence. As Councilor Blasi made clear, retaining the easement just allows for a future conversation and planning about the details of a connection. This is but a first step, and future negotiation and planning will be necessary.

Councilor Blasi also connected the dots between the Minto path and bridge, Bike and Walk Salem, and other wishes for and efforts to create a more livable Salem with a richer diversity of mobility choice. She also observed that more eyes on the cemetery will likely yield better security.  The connection will also encourage more volunteer help with cemetery maintenance.

City Attorney Randall Tosh has to explain much
The lead up to the motion was convoluted. As a "quasi-judicial" matter, ex-parte contact was at least theoretically forbidden, and layers of control were supposed to be wrapped around communications. Additionally, the parliamentary maneuvering and wording of a motion was not straightforward, and what we might wish was a simple matter instead was tricky.

In the end, a vacation with an easement seems like a very reasonable compromise, one that guarantees nothing except for more conversation.  But it also leaves possibility open.  That's the key.  Just as it would be premature to shut off the possibility of a connection, so it would be premature to open a gate without more planning and conversation. 

The motion passed with one vote in opposition, and Councilor Nanke was the one "nay."

Council and the Urban Renewal Agency also approved reallocating $3 million for the Minto bridge and path.

(Screenshots from the video feed of October 8th Council meeting.)

No comments: