|Two alleys and two street stubs proposed to be vacated|
On the one hand the City says,
the rights-of-way proposed for vacation have not been used by the public for several decades, and the parties had assumed the area had previously been vacated.But on the other hand, there's the copious balderdash:
The proposed Outpatient Rehabilitation Center project creates a unique opportunity to provide improvements that would strengthen the pedestrian connection between two important City resources, Bush's Pasture Park and Pringle Park, as well as serve the proposed Salem Hospital Commemorative Garden and Adaptive Playground for disabled children.The Hospital's proposal is actually anti-unique! They propose to demolish the resource, Howard Hall, that is in fact unique, and then replace it with generic parking lot and a playground that could be sited any number of other places. Further, the improvements for walking are not very great in magnitude or in quality, and also fail to be unique in any sense other than hyperbole.
There are several criteria, and comment should be addressed specifically to them. I'm not sure the grounds for opposition, on the merits, are all that strong, except for one:
(H) The public interest would not be prejudiced by the vacation.Folks have suggested that because of the two appeals now at LUBA, and the on-going contested nature of this development, it is entirely premature to discuss the vacation until the appeals are settled and the development plan is finalized.
That seems to be a clear way this vacation would prejudice the public interest.
It will be interesting to read and hear what others have to say. Some have raised questions about the way the land has been valued in the City's "Assessment of Special Benefit" on the vacation. So there may be other moving parts here that also merit delay.
In a general sense, though, it's hard to understand why this can't all wait until the other legal matters are settled.
|The land along Winter Street will flood (1964)|
|Elevation and density triangle preferred by neighbors|
This means that the corner of Mission and Church should have a much higher value, and it is still difficult to understand why they want to put a playground there - unless they planned on leveling it at a later date as they want to level Howard Hall today.
In any case, the Neighborhood Association's wish for an ornamental emptiness along Church Street is inconsistent with any reasonable development plan for the parcel. It may have been a self-defeating tactic.
To be clear, this is distinct from the lousy plan the Hospital has put forward to demolish Howard Hall, cut trees, and pave a vast parking lot.
But the wish for low-density parky nothingness along Church Street has made it more difficult to find a genuine compromise and probably ensured that we will have a sub-optimal outcome for everyone. More density in a streetcar scaled walkable development along Church Street might have made it easier to retain Howard Hall, for example.
In this way, green emptiness and asphalt emptiness are functionally not so different from each other, and both have had a deleterious effect on the total development possibilities.