The Albany City Council is not too sure what to do about encroachments on the Vine Street right-of-way that lines the Santiam canal. But council members are clear on one thing; They don’t want to allow permanent structures in the undeveloped space.
And so, they won’t authorize the owners at 636 Sixth Ave. S.W. to put a gate across the city-owned right-of-way.
That pretty much sums up what I got from a discussion of the Vine Street issue during Monday’s council work session.
Along several sections of the canal, which runs down the middle of what is Vine Street between Sixth and 12th Avenues, the street is undeveloped and only the right-of-way exists. And neighboring properties have expanded into the space, with sheds, parked vehicles, landscaping, and storage of various things.
The owners on Sixth wanted to put up a gate to secure their stuff that’s stored in the right-of way. This involved a concrete footing for a post, the council was told, and it was too much for those members who said something.
The city staff had proposed to issue the owners, and others along the canal similarly situated, licenses to occupy the right-of-way. This would legitimize their use but also assert the city’s ownership of the land.
But as a result of the discussion, Gorden Steffensmeier, the engineer in Public Works who brought this to the council, said he would tell the owners on Sixth that the license to occupy would not be forthcoming.
One way to resolve the situation is to build a street in the unused sections of the Vine Street right-of-way. But that would take years and a ton of money, and the council showed no inclination to go that route.
So how does the city intend to enforce its ownership of the right-of-way while also allowing continued use, without permanent installations, of the space that’s been occupied, in some cases for decades?
City Manager Peter Troedsson said he’ll present a plan to the council when it meets for its regular session on Wednesday night. (hh)