Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pictures of the City Hall and Police Station Concepts

So what's the City to do? In the paper yesterday some suggested that the whole Civic Center and Police Station thing is a secret.

While there haven't been as many details out as perhaps is optimal, the project did receive a large display at the library about three years ago!

Student Concepts for Civic Center and Police Station
Sustainable Cities Initiative Boards at Salem Public Library
December 2010
If a display at the library isn't public enough, what is?

But it's true, then, that there wasn't a new update really until now.  Perhaps the City should have made more effort to show another round of details.  But as a photo in Salem Weekly pointed out, people don't often don't attend open houses or other information meetings.  Even when you're critical of the City on one thing or another, you have to have some understanding of the indifference cycle from their perspective:  Indifference, indifference, indifference, BACKLASH!  Of course, some of this is self-inflicted.  Citizens who have suffered through the Third Bridge public process, for example, would be forgiven for any cynicism or thinking that public participation is nearly pointless.  It's a sticky wicket for sure.

Anyway, information here is better late than never.

While the article in the paper shared some details, over at CB|Two, there are big pictures Click to enlarge the images.  (The City has also buried some of the images in a pdf here.)

Civic Center and Proposed Police Station
Notice Atrium opened, Council Chambers relocated
Image looking south from above Trade Street on Liberty side.
Image: CB|Two

From higher up - City Hall and Police Station
Image: CB|Two

Nearly the whole Civic Center Superblock looking west
from above Waterplace
Image: CB|Two
The drawing's annotations and more after the jump...
  • Revitalize Peace Plaza while retaining important art features, and enhancing this community gathering place.
  • Seismically upgrade existing Civic Center, remove atrium canopy and Council Chambers for safety, and eliminate below grade public entrance creating enhanced connectivity.
  • Create new Public Safety Facility on existing City-owned property with sustainable construction practices and essential secure parking for Salem Police.
  • New Customer Service Center, additional Municipal Court room, and relocated Council Chambers.  Added public visibility and accessibility.
  • On grade added public parking, improved pedestrian connectivity, and multi-use plaza.
  • Revitalized Mirror Pond with attractive stormwater bioswale and trail network providing a key element in the connection from the Mill Race to Riverfront Park.
The at-grade connectivity to sidewalks would definitely be a plus, as would be redoing the Mirror Pond, which is pretty darn scummy and gross. 

A real heron admires the statue heron, greets the ducks,
and meditates on the transience of beauty.
The trees and grass in back would be replaced by the police station
But if comparisons between Eugene's $17M facility and a projected cost of $60M for this are reasonable, then you have to ask if it the project would be worth the full price.  City staff and the architect team should address this in public.  Maybe there are good reasons it would cost more.  And they should also address why we don't just demolish the brutalist monstrosity as some have suggested. Maybe it's not worth saving.

More questions remain.

No driver observes unmarked crosswalks here, even with signs.
Even with improved connections to the sidewalks,
access across busy roads is difficult

How about a sidewalk so you don't have to push a stroller
through the driveway?  The lot design forgot people on foot.
The thing is, even with these proposed changes, this superblock still would be dead on evenings and weekends, and connectivity across Liberty, Trade, Mission, and Commercial is not always easy. We should want more for a redevelopment and seismic retrofit!

Folks who organized last night's meeting have started a Facebook page, but the google didn't turn it up and the reference had no link. Hopefully more will come out about this.  Maybe some great ideas were discussed!

The City also has organized a meeting:
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Neighborhood Association Chairs
5:30 PM, Pringle Community Hall
(606 Church Street SE)


Curt said...

Sounds like nobody supported this plan at that meeting. Shocking! Things don't look good for the SSI proposals. A couple of years ago it was "why are we not implementing these?" Now the streetlight fee looks dead, mobility study looks as good as dead, new civic center looks DOA, and increasing housing density downtown doesn't sound like a big priority.

People sure are pissed about something. I can't tell if its that they are upset about the way things are or if they are trying to protect status quo. People seem to feel better if they can blame the city or the chamber instead of their own biases and/or malaise.

Also this:

Only 12% of businesses are providing information to the city to enforce the employee parking ban downtown. Another shocker!

Sarah Owens said...

Curt wrote of the public response to the Civic Center proposal, "People sure are pissed about something. I can't tell if its that they are upset about the way things are or if they are trying to protect status quo."

Judging by the emails that came through my inbox in the lead up to the Salem Community Visioning (or whatever it was called) meeting October 18th, people aren't pissed so much as they are reactive, and, being reactive, don't really know what they want. That's why you haven't been able to tell what they want. But you're not wrong that they SEEM to want to protect the status quo.

Those emails I referred to were forwarded by well-meaning but unskeptical individuals, like a chain letter, to more well-meaning but unskeptical individuals, who added ill-considered, offhand "ain't-it-awful" comments, which then get repeated in blogposts and social media as if they are fact, even to the point that they are cited by public officials as representing public sentiment generally (watch/listen to Commissioner Milne's pre-vote comments on the Justice Court consolidation last Monday on CCTV). The basic message of those emails was pretty consistent: important decisions affecting you are being made (or have been made) and you have been LEFT OUT! The natural response to a credible recipient to such a message is Whoa! Hold On! Not so fast! (i.e., Maintain the Status Quo!)

No one can want such a sad form of citizen engagement. But, with responsible bloggage like BoB, and citizens willing to exercise a little self-restraint when forwarding email, we might one day grow the "strong, robust, intellectually sound grass roots" citizenry you have written about.

Curt said...

Thanks Sarah! I know these folks are well meaning. In case you couldn't tell, I'm jealous that people aren't pissed about walking, biking, and transit.

Salem seems to have been in a "visioning" phase for over 20 years now. Now we have a new vision that is reacting to the previous visions that only now the city is acting on.

I just caught the latest issue of the Weekly. More of the same. Folks don't seem to see Peace Plaza as broken. On the contrary, the rallying cry seems to be "protect our beloved Peace Plaza."