Saturday, January 12, 2013

City Council, January 14th - updated

Back into the new year!  First here are a few upcoming dates for important worksessions:

Transportation Funding ~ Monday, January 28, Immediately following City Council Meeting

Salem River Crossing ~ Tuesday, February 19, 5:30 p.m. N3B reports it's been moved up. Now it's Tuesday, January 22nd, after the Economic Development Strategy worksession at 5:30pm. This is a curious move!

Other interesting upcoming dates:

Ordinance Bill No. 2-13 Adopting the Updated Airport Master Plan to Replace the 1997 McNary Field Airport Master Plan as a Detailed Plan of the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan; Amending SRC Chapter 64 ~ Monday, February 25

Citywide Economic Development Strategy (work session #2) - Tuesday, January 22, 5:30 p.m.

On the Actual Agenda

As for matters on the Council agenda itself, maybe the most interesting are two contrasting sets of Eminent Domain proceedings.

For the Eola Drive widening project, several agreements have been reached with homeowners, but the City is "unable to obtain a release from the mortgage lender" and so needs to continue down the path of a forced action.  I don't know if this is because the lenders aren't returning messages, because title is unclear, or because mortgages have become bundled and nobody knows who holds the mortgage.  Whatever it is, it's surely a product of the current housing/finance crisis and the antecedent conditions that caused it.

For a large apartment complex proposed on Wallace Road, things look much trickier.  Let's just assume for the moment that the Eola Drive project is completely warranted.  (I mean, it's currently missing sidewalks and bike lanes, so as far as improvements go, the "urban standard" of three-lane cross section with turn pockets is often more widening than is necessary, but the sidewalks and bike lanes are welcome.)  Here, though, we have a private development that is stranded from a sewer connection, and so the private developer is invoking the City's power for Eminent Domain in order to secure an easement for the sewer line connection across somebody else's property.  If in this context the public good is more-or-less uncontroversially served by improving Eola Drive, it's not at all clear how the public good is served by seizing an easement for a private developer!  Maybe this a sign the site is not appropriate for the planned development?  This is an interesting thing to watch.

There's an update on the widening of Keubler road spread amongst several projects.  (These are widening projects that less obviously serve the public good, and really just represent a commitment to MOAR CARS!)

Street trees get some love!  There's also a draft Community Forestry Strategic Plan.

Urban Renewal Agency is transferring Riverfront Park to the City of Salem proper.  (Even though its board members are identical to City Council, the Urban Renewal Agency is incorporated separately and constitutes a different legal entity.)  The fragmented nature of the tax lots, stemming from their origin as industrial and the original wharves and waterfront commerce of the very early city, is interesting as historic trivia.  Otherwise it's of only procedural import.

Finally, there's an update on the status of Council Goals, the formalized high-level goals adopted by City Council.  The Downtown Mobility Study is explicitly called out as addressing a number of the subitems in the Main Goal of Transportation Connectivity:  "Pursue opportunities to improve overall bike, pedestrian, and vehicular connectivity; reduce congestion; and enhance mobility."  Hopefully this will mean that Council will get behind the final project recommendations this summer as things that really do instantiate the high-level goals and values Council has formally adopted.


Curt said...

On Kuebler widening: It looks like developers have proposed a diverging diamond interchange for Kuebler and I-5. An information sheet on the Springfield, MO DDI over I-44 is included. Chuck Marohn (Strong Towns) made a great (and entertaining) video eviscerating that project:

At about 5:00 it gets funny.

Walker said...

The pea under the shell with the URA ==> Salem deal for Riverfront is that, if those parcels are then reclassed as park land, then doing anything at the east bridgehead becomes many orders of magnitude harder.

Thus, it may be OK to move the land under Salem proper rather than URA, but we need an absolute commitment NOT to do anything with the land that would preclude trying things to ameliorate jams at the bridgehead.

If that property winds up as park property, cynics might suspect that the timing and result is aimed at preventing any approach to bridge congestion short of new build.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well, Sun-of-a-gun, as they say! I think it would surprise many that Riverfront Park is not zoned a park. But you're absolutely right! The lots are all zoned "Central Business District," just like most of the land downtown. (See map here.) It's good to be alert to possible maneuvering here. Thanks!

And thanks Curt for the critique of the Springfield, MO project!

Anonymous said...

Well, N3B certainly think it's important! Today they say:


The Salem City Council on Monday night rejected the staff recommendation to transfer land near the Marion Street and Center Street Bridges from the Urban Renewal Agency to City Parks. NO 3rd Bridge's Sarah Deumling encouraged the Council to not limit bridgehead improvement alternatives by transferring the ownership, and Mark Wigg alerted the Council to the extra time and money the transfer would impose on possible improvements to the existing bridges."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with change of date on Council worksession on the Third Bridge