A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Barbed-wire request meets resistance

Written May 23rd, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The absurdity of the barbed wire on the tall fence is illustrated by its absence on the lower section at the Santiam Canal.

Jim Ketter’s request to get rid of the barbed wire along the Albany-Santiam Canal in the Monteith Historic District, and maybe even lower the fences, has gotten nowhere so far.

Ketter and his wife live a couple of blocks from the canal. In February he wrote to Mayor Sharon Konopa and Councilman Dick Olsen. He asked that the city take an inexpensive step toward realizing one aspect of the central Albany revitalization plan by doing something about the fences along the canal.

The plan for CARA, the Central Albany Revitalization Area, calls for an “esplanade” along the canal, which runs in the center of Vine Street from Queen Avenue to the Vine Street water treatment plant and power house. Nothing been done about that part of urban renewal since the plan was adopted in 2001. In the capital improvement plan for 2019-23, the city lists the canal esplanade among CARA’s many “unfunded projects” with a projected cost of nearly $3.7 million.

Nobody expects much from this part of the plan. But people can walk along segments of the canal — where neighboring properties have not blocked the way  — even without a multimillion-dollar “esplanade.”

Ketter’s idea was that if the fences were changed by getting rid of the barbed wire, at least, the place would look less forbidding and more inviting. And it could be done for almost nothing.

A story about his request ran here on March 7. What happened since?

Both the mayor and the councilman responded to his letter, they told me.

Konopa: “I responded to him that I would love to see the canal enhanced! It would be up to CARA to fund the project.”

Olsen: “I told Jim I agreed with him a hundred percent. However, city staff was adamant as to keeping the fences although they had to admit that the barbed wire was a little too much.”

A couple of weeks ago I asked Chris Bailey, director of public works/operations, about getting rid of the compound-like fences. Paraphrasing her response: Not going to happen. The city’s insurance carrier opposed it. And people might fall into the canal and not be able to get out because of the swift current and steep banks.

But the canal is unfenced along most of its 18 miles, and nobody seems to be worried about that.

No fence and no barbed wire: A simple railing keeps people from falling in at Marion Street. (Photo from April 2016)

18 responses to “Barbed-wire request meets resistance”

  1. David R Sullivan says:

    Thanks for yet another fun story about local government. You have such a lively perspective on how Albany operates.

  2. Bill says:

    “What is a life form that has more than four arms and four legs and no brain? Answer… a commitee.” – Robert Heinlien
    I’m just so very happy that insurance carriers get to decide exactly how we all must live. Stupidity in itself is a hazard. Maybe the insurance carriers could prevent stupid people from inhabiting the area. Require IQ testing before crossing into town. God save us from insurance carriers!

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    $3,700,000 for an ‘esplanade”? Only in the addled brains of CARA lackeys does this make sense.

    And “esplanade” is a euphemism for “walkway next to a ditch.”

    CARA uses lots of euphemism’s to conceal the reality of what they do. Shameful.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Says the expert who was also against the massive boondogle called the Carousel…

      • Avid reader says:

        The “jury” is still out on the carousel. I don’t see hoards of people flocking into the carousel now that the bloom is off the “rose.” We haven’t had any articles in the paper recently saying how wonderfully huge the crowds of attendees are.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Time to call you out, Ray. You lie.

        I totally supported a privately funded non-profit Carousel, as was initially promised by the Carousel folks. My letters to the ADH back then reveal this fact.

        The Carousel folks failed that promise by demanding public money through CARA. At that point they lost me. The Carousel doesn’t even come close to clearing the “public necessity” funding bar.


        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Yes, Gordon, you were one of those “…I supported it before I was against it…” types. I stand by what I said…

          • Ms J says:

            Although I don’t always agree with Mr. Shadle, he has a perfect right to change his mind about supporting the Carousel in light of the Carousel people breaking their promise to use only private funding.

            I would stand by what Gordon says unless you can prove him wrong.

            Don’t chastise him & others for their opinions, but respect them as they would respect yours and respond appropriately, especially true for you as you hold an elected position.

            In my opinion, you don’t display behavior of an elected council person due to your bullying responses to just about anyone who challenges decisions/ideas of the council.

            You could benefit by a lesson from Melania.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Time is now to explore other insurance “carriers”!

    “Thought” gift right there for the council. Get after it. Surely a switch can be made. Nice signs posted that display “DO NOT DROWN HERE!” with the carrier’s logo proudly shown for all to see and buy insurance from.

    Set the ditch free!!! Get on it Kellum & Kopczynski!!! Go!!!!

    Oh and “No Shade” …maybe you can help too? Quit your bitchin’ and offer ideas…like me.

    It is an EYESORE!!

  5. tom cordier says:

    Once again “staff” dictates. Adopt a commissioner form of governance and get rid of 20%o of staff.

  6. James Engel says:

    Two problems with the “ditch”. One is that it is a very fast flowing water source. The second is that the banks are vertical w/o much help to get out once someone has fallen in. If the fence was lowered & barbed wire removed the first brat that fell in & drowned..their family might become millionaires at tax payers expense!! From W. Queen to the power plant the ditch ought to be in a tube.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Jim –
      I do agree with your synopsis until your last sentence… Why stop @ W. Queen? Where do you draw the line tor the end-point? And if you do something aka the “tube” – how does that get paid for? :-)

      • James Engel says:

        I believe it’s in the CARA district yes/no. And I believe there’s a bunch of $$ in that account.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Yes it is. Has been one of the “projects” since inception. Issues are still what have been outlined… Safety & Liability. Of course, it has to move up the priority list for consideration too… (So, while is’t on the list, there’s way too many projects on the list than can possibly funded.)

  7. Steve Reynolds says:

    A lot of reasonably priced barrier monitoring systems, they actually use a cell tower to send a signal to a cell phone if someone breaches the system. Might use some of the more current options available to upgrade the infrastructure. There’s also some systems out there that are tied to drones that can be dispatched and take pictures/infrared of where the breach takes place…and if that’s not enough you can add speakers and spotlights to communicate. Barbed wire is kind of 1800’s technology.

  8. Cheryl P says:

    “The absurdity of the barbed wire on the tall fence is illustrated by its absence on the lower section at the Santiam Canal.” and “No fence and no barbed wire: A simple railing keeps people from falling in at Marion Street.”

    Regarding the second photo…I would say that the difference has to do with location and traffic. In looking at the ground in this photo, it doesn’t look as there is a lot of foot traffic, so stricter measures aren’t necessary.

    Regarding the first photo, it doesn’t appear that the lower section and the tall fence were built at the same time…the materials don’t match. So the question of ‘absurdity’ is moot without historical context of why there is a difference in the two sections.


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