Monday, November 26, 2012

A Scorecard for the City Council Boondoggle Worksession on Wednesday, 11/28, 5:30 pm

For reasons unclear, the City Council has moved their worksession away from Council Chambers (and the CCTV cameras) so you'll have to come out to the Anderson Room at the Salem Public Library this Wednesday, 11/28, at 5:30 p.m. to see whether the City Council intends to do its job and subject the most expensive public project proposal in Salem's history to the kind of serious, skeptical scrutiny that it deserves, or whether they just hope to let the Concrete Lobby roll by them.

Remember, this is a council that devoted HOURS and HOURS to public meetings and multiple public hearings to whether Salem residents could keep a few chickens in the yard.  This is a decision with a million times more magnitude, so this merits at least dozens of times the level of investigation.

Here's a scorecard for you for Wednesday night, so you can see which council members take their responsibilities seriously (by demanding serious, research-based answers on each issue):

How many of these critical issues does the Salem City Council address at its November 28th work session on the Third Bridge?

c     The Council discusses a plan to pay for the 3rd Bridge, acknowledging that it will involve considerable local revenue from tolls on all bridges, a property tax ballot measure, or a gas tax increase.

c     The Council discusses the fact that traffic on the existing bridges is at a 10-year low and that this trend is likely to continue with increasing gas prices and other changes in people's driving habits.

c     The Council discusses the fact that the 3rd Bridge will require purchasing 75 acres of new right-of-way that will displace over 160 homes and businesses.

c     The Council discusses the fact that the 3rd bridge will create visual and noise pollution through neighborhoods for 2.7 miles from West Salem to Highland when these residents find themselves under the longest elevated freeway in Oregon.

c     The Council discusses the fact that the 3rd Bridge will reduce the size of Wallace Marine Park and destroy the beauty and natural setting of much of the park.

c     The Council discusses the fact that planning for the 3rd Bridge is $5.5 million over its original $2 million planning budget and is four years late.

c     The Council discusses the fact that a financing package was promised in August of 2008 and that it is highly unusual to wait until a design is approved before deciding how to fund it.

c     The Council discusses the fact that after six years of meetings, the preliminary preferred alternative (4D) for the 3rd Bridge did not receive support from a majority of the Salem River Crossing Planning Task Force.

c     The Council discusses the fact that all three of the Neighborhood Associations that are in the path of the 3rd Bridge are on record as opposing it.

c     The Council discusses the fact that the 3rd Bridge will take retail business away from Salem by making it easier to get to Keizer Station and the Woodburn Outlet Mall.

c     The Council discusses the fact that plans for the 3rd Bridge plan ignore less expensive options to relieve peak hour congestion, such as off-ramps to fix the ends of the existing bridges with better traffic flow to Glen Creek Drive and Front Street north, and bike lanes and better transit to West Salem.

Thursday Night, 11/29, at Salem Public Library: The Willamette River

English: Aerial view of the Willamette River n...
English: Aerial view of the Willamette River near Salem, Oregon, shown as a diagram to explain the 1996 flooding in the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Straub Environmental Learning Center will be hosting another lecture in this year’s series on Thursday, Nov. 29th at the Salem Library from 7 pm – 8 pm. 

Travis Williams will cover a range of topics related to the Willamette River. He will focus on the Clean Water Act, and the status of the Willamette River's water quality and habitat. He will provide a brief update on the Portland Harbor Superfund site and the likelihood of a comprehensive and timely cleanup. He will also provide a focus on the Willamette River Greenway Program, a fantastic public lands vision for the Willamette that was created back in the late 1960s by Governor Straub.  The Greenway was hatched near the same time as the Beach Bill, originally envisioned with the same notion of public trust values, yet this program did not reach the same heights.

Travis Williams has worked in river conservation since the 1990s and since 2000 has led Willamette Riverkeeper (WR). In addition to directing WR’s operations, he serves as Riverkeeper, making regular patrols of the river from Eugene to Portland and seeking to uphold the Clean Water Act through Advocacy and legal action. While implementing the Clean Water Act, Cleanup up Portland Harbor, and decreasing the impact of dams along the Willamette are his main priorities, Travis also enjoys getting people to experience the river in low impact craft such as canoes.

Earlier Travis worked for American Rivers and Conservation International in Washington DC. He is an avid canoeist who has traveled many western rivers and photographed their natural beauty. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from Portland State University and an M.S. in Environmental Science from The Johns Hopkins University. A fifth-generation Oregonian who grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, Travis was on the Willamette River with friends at a young age. In March of 2009, his book The Willamette River Field Guide, was published by Timber Press. He has received the Skidmore Prize in 2004 for his leadership, and was awarded the Columbia River Hero Award by the Columbia Basin Toxics Reduction Workgroup for his work on reducing toxics in the Willamette. He is now working on a book about the John Day River.

See you on Thursday night!  Life Source Natural Foods will be providing free snacks before and after the lecture.

Michelle Cordova
Manager, Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center
Mailing Address: PO Box 12363 Salem, OR 97309
Physical Address: 1320 A Street NE, Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 391-4145
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