Saturday, February 23, 2013

City Council, February 25th

Is this really that important?
Doom at the airport.  At least that's what the City and airport boosters want you to think. 

The hearing on the airport master plan has been pulled from Council agenda, and it's interesting this coincides with the doom-and-fear in the headlines today - something that looks like it's meant to gin up support for the airport.  (Is it also posturing in the Sequester battle?)

In the legislative positions it is interesting to read that the City is apparently ok with increasing the tax on aviation fuel, as
the additional revenue would be used to support Oregon Department of Aviation grant programs for both State-owned airports as well as other public-use airports across the state, including Salem. The funds are anticipated to be used towards deferred maintenance projects that are not federally eligible and also to provide grant match assistance. The benefit to the Salem Airport is it would provide access to additional funds to help improve the airport that federal dollars are not authorized for, and also to offset local match requirements for federal grants.
But the City's not ok with any increase in the gax tax for deferred road maintenance and other transportation improvements.

Other stuff

Two property owners on Second St. NW are unable to reach agreement with the City in "cordial, ongoing negotiations, but the owners have not been willing to sign and complete a transaction."  The City wants land for the Second St parking lot project.  (It's a lousy project, far from the bike boulevard and rail-to-trail conversion they might have done.)  So the City's going to invoke Eminent Domain

Second Street Parking Lot Project
As part of the path connecting the Minto Bridge to Minto Park proper, the City needs to transfer $48,000 for a survey.
City staff has not been able to identify a source of Urban Renewal Agency or other Funds that qualifies to pay for land survey services outside of the General Fund, thus making the transfer from General Fund contingencies necessary.
$48,000 isn't that much, but is pulling something like that for a survey from a contingency fund actually the best use of what look like "rainy day" funds?  I wish the City pursued other transportation matters with the same zeal, sometimes.  Too many resources are being used on the bridge and path at the expense of other projects that would better improve the City's transportation network.   It's not that the bridge is a bad project - indeed, it's a very good one - but its benefits are overstated, and other projects might offer a greater return on investment right now.  (It's also an example of the City "loving" bikes as long as people on them don't impede those in cars.)

The North Broadway Parking Study will be pushed off a few months in order to coordinate its recommendations with the Parking Task Force, whose zone of study was expanded to include the North Downtown area.  

The Parks Master Plan update will go to a public hearing before the Planning Commission.  The plan documents were updated a couple of days ago, and draft v2.2 is now available here

Finally, in what looks to be a gesture related to the City's termination of the contract with the Salem Downtown Partnership, Mayor Peterson is introducing a motion to "remove Carole Smith from the Downtown Advisory Board property owner/business owner position with a term expiring 12/31/2013."  No matter what has happened, it is an unfortunate setback and unwanted turmoil for downtown.  The Partnership was trying to effect some change, and impartial observers might well find entrenched interests resistant to change behind whatever other very real difficulties there might have been.   Hopefully more will come out about the struggles in implementing the Economic Improvement District - and will help folks who want to cheer for downtown in discriminating between substantive and collateral (or political) matters in the dispute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With Carole running for mayor, the Downtown Advisory Board removal is a topic again. Hinessight has commentary and Carole's side of the dispute -