|"Wildlife" at Mirror Pond!|
- Should we expand the Urban Growth Boundary for Keizer Rapids Park?
- Initiating an Update to the Food Cart Ordinance
- Enlarging Fast Food Menu Boards
- New Land Use and Public Works Fees
This week's neighborhood meeting are more interesting for our purposes.
Morningside - Wednesday
On the agenda:
Madrona at 25th Intersection Improvements and Kuebler at Commercial Intersection – Gary Myzak Program Manager, Aaron Edelman, Project Manager and Steve Ward of Westech Engineering;
|Project Scope on 25th and Madrona|
SCAN - Wednesday
|OSU Library, 1919 - John Bennes|
The arch/dormer detail at the entry and side looks familiar?
OSU has a nice flickr stream of Bennes buildings
 Oregon Architectural Legacy of John V. Bennes - Larry Landis, Director, Special Collections & Archives, Oregon State University Libraries;  Lord & Schryver/Gaiety Hollow Update;Holy Smokes! The document truck backed up and dumped a few more loads of documents at the City site on Howard Hall. I don't envy the volunteer Commissioners, who presumably will need to read every one and come to a nuanced legal opinion. And there's going to be more! - a couple of response and rebuttal rounds, it looks like.
Certainly from here it seems that the crowd-sourced critique of the plan is overwhelming: Lots of smart and informed people have raised numerous questions about the extent to which the Hospital has met the four demolition criteria. There don't seem to be any letters of support other than largely sentimental appeals by parents and grandparents for the accessible playground - but of course their desires, entirely legitimate, can be met without demolishing Howard Hall. They prove there's a demand for an accessible playground, that's all. The other half of the case, that it requires or is worth demolition, looks much shakier.
In fact, some interested parties say the value of Howard Hall is great. The original letter from the American Council for the Blind (contained in the supplemental staff report) says, "I am writing to urge you to preserve historic Howard Hall...Don't be part of the total devastation and destruction of a rich history and legacy for the blindness community of Oregon..." Presumably, as with all reified "communities," there is no monolithic "Blind Community." So this is evidence that the Hospital cannot appeal to broad support among "the disabled community." People with disabilities are many, various, and unlikely to be unanimous on this.
The neighborhood letter from SCAN is also interesting, and contains important claims about ways the Hospital's proposal (and the staff report that endorses it) fails to meet each of the four relevant criteria. It seems that the Hospital purchased the site at a discount and pretty much for the land only, assigning no independent value to Howard Hall. Since Howard Hall was valued so low in the sale, it's not reasonable mid-analysis then to switch to a high valuation and talk about how difficult it would be to generate a "reasonable economic return" on the building. The analysis of economic return must also use the low valuation, and by those standards, the Hospital's not anywhere close to showing hardship.
Finally, because a relocated and rebuilt Walton House, the "hospitality house" which provides housing for families with ill children, and which commemorates her family's benefactions, is part of the development, Elizabeth Walton Potter in her capacity as our preeminent historic preservationist is not exactly a disinterested party, but her comments are very interesting. She deprecates the architectural value of Howard Hall, saying "it is not close to being the exemplar of revivalism that are Bennes's corresponding Mediterranean/Italian Renaissance Revival Women's Building (1926) and Men's Dormitory (Weatherford Hall, 1928) at Oregon State University..." She seems to be alone in this, however, and most of the other historic assessments ascribe to Howard Hall a higher value in Bennes' oeuvre, especially as it is unique in Salem.
And in fact that's what looks like it will be discussed by Larry Landis in his talk.
It would be tedious to try to summarize the arguments and write an independent assessment of them. The City has issued its own staff summary of all the testimony. It dismisses a good bit, curiously, and finds that "the testimony of [many] parties has limited relevance to any applicable criteria or evaluation of how the applicant's proposal meets the criteria."
Additionally, the City staff attorney has issued an opinion on interpretation of the demolition criteria, and it's pretty narrow, and much of it contrary to SCAN's position. Though it's interesting that a part of it says "the cost of improvements to make Howard Hall capable of generating a fair profit are so great that these costs could not be recouped through the sale or lease of Howard hall, and thus demolition is economically necessary." It's hard to see "necessity" here. But also, time. What's the time frame? That's what these preservation ordinances miss. The values in historic preservation always stretch out on a longer horizon than the insistent NOW of demolition. Give it five or ten years, and it will be obvious that the brute economic value of an intact Howard Hall is greater than a parking lot or playground. In any event, the opinion seems mostly favorable to the Hospital.
We all will just see what the HLC decides! But if earlier it seemed likely the Hospital had met the demolition criteria, now I'm not so sure, and I think there's a chance the HLC could decide the criteria have not been met. All the testimony and analysis seem like they provide good grounds for denying the Hospital, notwithstanding the City's apparent sympathy for demolition.
The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, the 11th at 6:30 p.m. in Pringle Hall, 606 Church St SE.
Highland - Thursday
 Bridge District Study Grant Application—Julie Warncke, City of Salem;For details and criticism, see here.
The Highland Neighborhood Association meets Thursday the 12th at 7:00 p.m. They meet at Highland Elementary School, 530 Highland Ave NE.
(N3B is also holding a rally on Wednesday the 11th. There will be more to say in a separate note, but mark your calendars!)
SESNA - Thursday
On Thursday, SESNA will also hear the update on 25th and Madrona.
|WU owns land along 14th and the Geer Line|
(notes added) from WU 2009 campus master plan
There are lots of boarding houses along 14th here, and Willamette owns a good bit of property - probably including some of the housing - but it's not clear that large-scale demolition and redevelopment would be better than finer-grained and gradual redevelopment. Something to watch.
SESNA meets Thursday the 12th at 7:00 p.m. in