Friday, July 5, 2019

City Council, July 8th - Daylighting Pringle Creek

Council meets on Monday and a slate of three tranches of Urban Renewal funding leads the way.

View towards the Minto Bridge from Commercial St Bridge -
with retaining wall and concrete cap
Most interesting here is action on daylighting Pringle Creek and preparing for the path system in the former Boise project.

Also worth notice is increased funding from URA funds for both the Police Station and Division Street at the Police Station.

The Cthulhu keyboard and fish ladder
to be removed
 (Back in 2014)
You may recall a brief note back in April that the City was working on plans to remove the concrete cap over Pringle Creek between Commercial Street and Riverfront Park, in the area of the former Boise Cascade plant. A year before that, in April of 2018, the Nursing Home project was announced as delayed again, and we saw the first public discussion of cap removal.

Area of "concrete cap" - the path system will
look very different now!
No more boardwalk
Now, finally, it looks like there's some action on this. With twinned agenda items, one for the Urban Renewal Agency and one for the City of Salem, the City proposes to fund the removal:
The Pringle Creek North Block Slab Demolition Project (Project) is included in the currently adopted Capital Improvement Plan, the City of Salem’s adopted Capital Improvements Fund budget, and the Urban Renewal Agency’s SWURA adopted budget. The City has committed $1,600,000 to the project and the Agency has committed $1,300,000.
From the proposed 2020 CIP
The City's still not published many details about the demolition and restoration, but the application with the State describes it as:
Removing the remnants of the Boise Cascade infrastructure from within and over the creek, removing the fish ladder, regrading the channel with a natural fishway (roughened channel), and planting riparian vegetation along both banks of the creek. The proposed channel design emulates conditions observed farther creating a riffle-pool-run bed morphology. Large wood structures [like logs?] will be installed within the pools at the base of the riffles to provide cover habitat...
The City has not made public a new path concept and design, however. With this is no new schedule for the Nursing Home, either. So there are still questions and details to settle.

Also with twinned agenda items are infusions for overruns at the Police Station: An addition of $2.7 million for a total of $4.7 million in URA funding for the Police Station (City side, URA side), and an addition of $633,000 for a total of $4.2 million for the Division Street and Liberty Street road work at the Police Station (City side, URA side).

With the previous archeology work at the Police Station site, the potential for discovery at the Boise site, and the previous announcement that the City was seeking improved protocols on working with tribes, it is interesting to note that on Council agenda is an appointment to the Historic Landmarks Commission of an archeologist employed by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Whether that's coincidence or by design, surely that'll improve communication.

Council is going to review a Planning Commission decision way out south on Liberty Road for a multi-family housing project on about 15 acres. Maybe later there will be more to say, but it's not clear what might be the issues.

Finally, the Big Weed is back as an information item. The public part of the debate has been going on for over half a year, and the reasons for it remain as murky as ever. The former State Librarian can't even figure it out and still has to speculate:
So what really might be driving the Big Weed is the desire of library management to take a collection that just a few years ago was housed on all three floors of the library and shoehorn it onto the main floor, along with the Internet computers that used to be on the bottom floor, and to have it all on 5 1/2 foot shelves. Doing that will certainly require a Big Weed—a downsizing of our adult book collection to become the smallest per capita in the state of Oregon.
All of the City Librarian's explanations so far have obfuscated, resorting to business jargon and cliche. After months into the public debate we still don't have a clear explanation for why. It should be easy to be clear about it!

Clarity has instead been elusive and speculation filled in the gaps. One member of the Library Advisory Board speculated it was for ADA compliance, but it turns out there's no ADA requirement for shorter shelves, only a requirement for clearance width between shelves. Even she was operating with errant information and trying to fill in the gaps. Another person writes that a book offering a list for a core collection "ignores authors of color and is ethnocentric," and suggests that Salem needs "an overhaul on its collection." Well, that's likely very true - but that's an argument for a bigger acquisition budget! That's not an argument for the big weed and its reductions. Arguments in favor of the big weed rarely engage criticism of it and instead resort to speculation to fill the information vacuum. Reasons for the big weed never hold up to sustained investigation. So what is going on? Why are the reasons for it so mystified? Inside the City there's still a story that's not being told.

In the end, perhaps the most telling detail is that in a comparison of metrics like staff/population, library budget/population, library visits/population, checkouts/population, Salem stacks up best not with other cities in the Valley, but with the Jackson County Library, which apparently in 2007 privatized the system. Surely that's not the peer we most want to emulate!


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added clip from the 2020 CIP, as a "stormwater" project.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Over on FB the Library board member offers this response:

"The other reasons for the shorter shelves are conveniently skipped over by this author. Safety and visibility issues are addressed by shorter shelves. Also shorter shelves DO provide greater access for people who use wheelchairs or have other physical challenges. The third reason for shorter shelves is that they can be braced more efficiently for an earthquake which is the whole reason for the retrofit in the first place."

There is no "skipping" here. This criticism is, rather, another instance of obfuscation and euphemism and speculation filling in the gap!

The Library policy is described as "collection management" and "collection development."

But what is actually being described is a major collection reduction, not merely routine maintenance.

If shorter shelves and collection reduction is in fact "mission critical," then the City Librarian and City Staff need to be direct and clear about all this, and center it. And they should stop using obfuscating euphemisms like "management," "maintenance," and "development." It's a reduction.

To the extent that librarians and librarianship are about debate and intellectual honesty and full information, this has been far from the ideal and a major failure.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I know virtually nothing about Library Science, weeding policies or other aspects of the technical debate over the Bit Weed.
What I do know is that we are in a debt crisis with the Salem budget and we do not have the funds to keep tossing out books because of some arbitrary the book was not checked out enough. Citizens want to have fiscal responsibility with their tax dollars.

That boils down to don't get rid of perfectly good books if you do not have the funds to replace them! So, for now I would urge the City Council to say don't remove any books unless they are damaged or dirty.

Maybe sometime in the future we can get all philosophical and do 'collection development' but now is not the time!