If you've been wondering about that $15 Bicycle Excise Tax, the City of Salem is going to apply for a grant to bring some of it back.
|Plan view of the path|
On Thursday the 14th the Parks and Recreation Board convenes and they'll be hearing about the City's application for a Community Paths Program grant to fund the path connection between Mirror Pond and Riverfront Park along the creek inside the former Boise property.
|Staff Report to SPRAB (in the meeting packet)|
|View from Commercial Street Bridge looking west|
Maybe in a few years it will be possible to walk or bike from the Amtrak depot to Riverfront Park and then into West Salem without having to travel along busy streets, and only having to cross a few of them. It still won't get us much connectivity with the business district downtown, but it will go pleasantly through the parky strips along the creeks and make connections on the edges of the downtown core.
With this project, aside from some detail matters, the main elements of the Boise redevelopment appear fixed in a final form, even if construction remains on several of them.
It's interesting to consider the evolution of the project, especially the Park Parcel going from a residential development to the amphitheater, the swap of the Nursing Home and Park Front office building on the North Block, and the change from parking lot to boardwalk and finally to daylighted creek along Pringle Creek.
The Slough Parcel remains to be developed in theory, but it has not much been referenced in materials that hit City Council over the years, and perhaps it has been abandoned.
The Staff Report does not discuss the railroad undercrossing in any detail, and at several points over the last few years it seemed that the railroad was not very interested in giving permission for the grade-separated crossing. That the City is confident in applying for a grant hopefully means that issue has been resolved or is close to being resolved. It will be good to learn more about this particular milestone and pinch point.
The Nursing Home still seems like a waste of this prime downtown space,
and it did not also seem necessary to direct so much subsidy to the Park
Front office building. But the Southblock Apartments have seemed on the
whole to be a real benefit.
Could the redevelopment project in total be better? Sure. But as it is, it's not awful, and it broadly meets the goal of enhancing downtown.
As for the funding, the Community Path Program does not rely exclusively on the $15 excise tax, and is a development out of the lottery-based ConnectOregon program, which had funded some walking and biking programs earlier in the decade. You might recall several of the projects from ConnectOregon V in 2015, which autoist and freight interests criticized, and pushed to have excluded in future rounds. This Community Paths Program evolved in part out of that complaint and debate. On the one hand, it guaranteed a secure funding stream, but on the other hand it also siloed and even marginalized it. But with the excise tax it also fails the test of "taxing what we want less of" and subsidizing what we want more of. (See BikePortland for more on the development of the Community Path Program and on the Bicycle Excise Tax.)
See previous notes on the path concept here.
Addendum, Saturday the 30th
The concept drawings in the Council agenda item (link and note here) show a potential path and bridge connection on the Slough Parcel, and a stairway down from the west side of Commercial Street.
|Details from January 25th Council item (red added)|
Salem Reporter also published a piece, focusing on the small bridges.
Added note on Slough Parcel, stair connection to Commercial, and Salem Reporter piece.
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