Saturday, March 7, 2015

City Council, March 9th - Boise and State Hospital Updates

Here's some unambiguous good news!

Not "long-term" any more!
Union Street: Commercial on left, Liberty at center
(concept only, and final design will likely be different)
You already knew about the project for the intersection at Union and Commercial.

Union and Commercial, Phase IA
Now in the City's draft Capital Improvement Program for 2015-2020, there's more! "Phase IB of the project includes adding four curb extensions at Liberty/Union Street and design and constructing enhanced bicycle facilities on Union Street, between Commercial and Winter Streets." Previously there had been no work funded east of the intersection with Commercial. This is good to see.

On Union, Liberty to Winter, Phase IB
Looks like this work is anticipated for 2017 - 2019.

(The section of Union Street east of Winter Street is outside the Urban Renewal Area and remains unfunded, so there is no connection yet planned for the Esplanade, North High, and Safeway. Hint, hint!)

And on that pleasant thought, we note Council meets on Monday, and in addition to starting to think about formal adoption of the CIP, which is actually on the schedule for the 23rd, there are several other matters of interest.

The North Campus of the State Hospital and the Boise Redevelopment

Two redevelopment projects lead the way. Councilor Bennett will introduce a motion prompted by the Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. They propose the City should formally explore the idea of "acquiring the State-owned 6-acre field at the southeast corner of 23rd Street NE and D Street NE, for use as a City park and sports field." In addition to the fact that it is already in use as a park, the Advisory Board notes that the new Salem Parks Master Plan calls for new softball and soccer fields, and that a formal acquisition here would contribute to easing that deficit. It also fits with the neighborhood preference for lower-scale redevelopment along D Street and greater massing and density along Center Street.

Summary of Current Status
(proposed demolitions and park area added)
One way to look at this is as a trade-off: If the neighborhood really desires a park here, maybe negotiating that purchase is easier with 5/6 of the buildings demolished and a developer given a virtually clean slate on the rest of the land. If you leave the buildings, the buildable surface area is much less, and it seems like it would be very unlikely that a large chunk of greenspace would be left untouched. Keeping a park at 23rd and D likely also means that the more forested quadrant on Park and D would be cut down or greatly thinned. These things have lots of moving parts and changing one variable has system effects on the other variables.

There is also a general update on the State Hospital project.
Oregon Senate Bill5502 appropriates Oregon General Fund monies to Oregon's Department of Administrative Services, including $8.3 M for the demolition of all existing North Campus buildings, except the Dome Building, and demolition and fill of the property's underground tunnels. [the bill as introduced doesn't mention the State Hospital, and only mentions "Enterprise Asset Management," but there is an $8.3 million line item]
At Boise, the $750,00 "project grant" is on the agenda for the Urban Renewal Agency, and it turns out that one of the reasons for this dollar amount is to slide under "prevailing wage" requirements. So the project grant will be not to exceed $749,999.

Proposed Marquis Nursing Home on Boise Site
At this point the Nursing Home looks like a done deal, and this remains the most disappointing part of the whole project.

It's hard to say just how complex are the negotiations for all this, but it should be noted that the project grant is part of conditions attached to the purchase of the "Park Parcel" and at least partially involved in terms for the walkway and easement along the north side of Pringle Creek. (More here and here.) It's easy to criticize on a stand-alone basis, but in the end we will need to critique the totality of the project (all those moving parts again) - and unfortunately for citizens, we won't be able to do that until it's finished. It's hard to say whether this is a dumb give-away or a truly necessary part of the total package. From here, if this part of the project were higher quality, not a nursing home, it would be much easier to defend the subsidy. (Hinessight argues for dumb give-away.)

Other Stuff

Proposed Goodwill with First Street alignment in red
The proposed street vacation for Goodwill in West Salem is on the agenda. Goodwill wants to vacate First Street and a stub of another street. Today these are barely graveled alleys, and perform no meaningful transportation function. (Have you ever traveled down First Street?!) From here it seems like there are no issues at all with the street vacation, and that it's the way we handle Second Street and the proposed undercrossing that deserves the close attention. Council looks to set a date for a Public Hearing on this. There will be more to say later when the staff report comes out. (See here for more on the proposed Goodwill development.)

Poor Willamette Queen. They're stuck without an inspection from the Coast Guard, and the means to a drydock, Willamette Locks, is closed. The Mayor proposes a resolution in favor of reopening the Locks. Curiously, the matter is partially framed in seismic terms: "the reopening of the Willamette Falls Locks provides an alternate source of transport in the event of a national disaster such as a slippage of the Cascadia Subduction Zone." She also cites the prospect of boating tourism.

(It would be nice for the Mayor to show equal consideration for the Marion and Center Street Bridges!)

Parenthetically, the Street Light fee is on the agenda for a second reading. It will almost certainly move forward. (Ordinance here.)

Finally, back to the CIP. You'll note again how little the gas tax funds for road construction.

Gas Tax funds no more than 23% of Capital Projects in this cycle
The clips come from the "future report" and it will actually be on the agenda for the 23rd, so there may be more to say then as we have a chance to dig into it.

Here for comparison is the 2014-2019 Operations budget projection revenue side. (This is distinct from the Capital budget in the CIP.)

$8 million a year in gas tax - 2014 Financial Forecast
We'll dig more into the numbers for the meeting on the 23rd and maybe take a stab what the gas tax actually funds in Salem. It's much less than folks think. During an earlier five-year projection, cost shifting from user fees to taxes on home-owners accounted for 75% of our road work in the capital budget.

Capital Funding Cost Shifting, 2012-2017
from user fees to home ownership taxes - 75%!
There may also be some other projects to discuss in the CIP.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

'Moving parts' on the North Campus issue is a very apt statement. I have some information that comes from a very reliable source that suggests the situation is very fluid and it is important for citizens to keep sharing hopes and dreams and all kinds of suggestions to the key decision makers. Nothing is set yet no matter what is on paper at this point!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

For tonight's Council meeting, a second supplement to the agenda has a motion to reconsider the denial of the petition to vacate 1st Street NW for the proposed Goodwill in West Salem.

At the meeting on the 9th, this meeting, Councilor Lewis made a motion to deny the vacation. He cited the need to site and plan the Third Bridge first before committing to a large development like this at the ramp spaghetti. There was only a little discussion and the motion carried 4 to 3.

Councilors Bennett, Lewis, Andersen, and Mayor Peterson voted to deny the vacation, and Councilors McCoid, Benjamin, and Bednarz voted to let the vacation process go forward.

Tonight, the 23rd, Councilor Bennett formally asks to reconsider the matter and to put it back on Council agenda for April 13th.

More to come...