HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

After bond defeat, a prudent council action

Written November 7th, 2013 by Hasso Hering
The Albany council at a recent meeting. (This is a file photo from Oct. 23.)

The Albany council at a recent meeting. (This is a file photo from Oct. 23.)

Some voters in Albany will think the majority of the city council is tone deaf. The people vote on a $20.3 million bond issue for a new police station and downtown fire station, and by Tuesday night 5,048 of them, a majority of those voting, have said no. Twenty-four hours later, five council members (only Rich Kellum dissents — “This bothers me”) vote to spend $545,000 on the remaining property needed for the fire hall. What? Didn’t they listen?

Well, they did listen. And this was their reasoning, more or less: The funding proposal was turned down, yes. But the fire station will have to be replaced sooner or later, no matter what. Because of response times in relation to the area it serves and to the other stations, it will have to be replaced about where it is. The city could wait and take the property for expansion later through eminent domain whether the then-owners are ready to sell or not. But Albany does not want to take property through condemnation, and now we don’t have to because we have negotiated an agreement with a willing seller. We also have assurance of help from a state fund in the likely event that part of the site, long occupied by Richards Cleaners, needs environmental cleanup. So even though the financing proposal is dead for now, we should not lose the opportunity to obtain the property we’ll need whenever the time to build the station comes.

Look at it from that point of view, and you may concede that, the bond election result notwithstanding, the council did the right thing. (hh)

Jim Engel: Can’t argue as such with the expansion/rebuild of the downtown firehall. My issue is with the S/W property for the police station. The only saving grace is the size of the site. Other than that it is served by two narrow streets. There are commercial/medical facilities on the corner already to which police traffic will only clog the area! No firm word if ODOT will allow access to Pacific Blvd. directly or something to the north of the site. Would that mean crossing the ditch with all the hassles involving a water crossing?
The council is using Pepsi money to purchase the fire hall properties, so why not look at the apartment complex next to the present police station? Close that stub of Jefferson St. & buy the property to its east side also. I’m disgusted with the lock step, “we own the property already”, it’s going there come hell or high water attitude by the council. Try thinking outside the confines of your council box & consider what I think would be a viable deal. It would total then the same size! With Jackson street now a wide, newly paved street, it’s a proper place. J.E.



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