Rebuilding Hill Street: No ‘taking’ of property – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Rebuilding Hill Street: No ‘taking’ of property

Written May 10th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Construction activity on Hill Street near 28th Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

No, the city of Albany did not “take” private property for the rebuilding of Hill Street, a two-year project being completed this summer.

A few days ago, the Democrat-Herald published a letter from a reader criticizing the work on Hill Street as being more elaborate than necessary. Among the letter’s assertions was that the city had taken property from owners along the street, to the point where their driveways now were too short to accommodate their vehicles.

I wondered about this. I’m a fan of public works, especially street projects, in particular those that encourage the use of bikes for transportation. I hadn’t heard of any property acquisition needed for Hill Street. So I checked with Chris Cerklewski, the city engineer in charge of this project.

“The city didn’t need to acquire any additional right-of-way to construct the street improvements on Hill Street (either last year or the work under construction this year),” he told me via email. “The street and sidewalks were constructed within the existing right-of-way.”

According to the construction drawings, the Hill Street right-of-way is 66 feet wide.

The contract for this year’s project was awarded to Pacific Excavation, whose bid of $3,054,344 was the lowest of seven. The job calls for not just rebuilding the street but also installing a new water main, an iron pipe 2 feet across and nearly 3,000 feet long. Then, besides the new pavement, it calls for curbs, sidewalks, and landscaping.

New trees are part of it. The contract names seven different species, among them Japanese snowbell, two kinds of maple, and “city sprite zelkova.”

And yes, there will be bike lanes, just like on the segment done last year, from Queen to 24th, where riding a bicycle now feels a whole lot safer than before.

How’s the project coming, by the way, and when will it be done? Here’s Cerklewski:

“This year’s phase of Hill Street construction between 24th and 34th Avenue is scheduled to have the road back open to traffic by August 30 with all remaining work (landscaping, etc.) completed by November 8.  The contractor is currently working on completing new underground utilities (including a large diameter water main).  The bulk of the remaining street construction work will take place this summer.”

For South Albany traffic, Hill Street is a vital link. Completing this project will make it easier and safer to use. (hh)

Regardless of what it looks like, the Hill Street project is being done within the 66-foot right-of-way.


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9 responses to “Rebuilding Hill Street: No ‘taking’ of property”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Ray, thanks for making case that underlevying CARA would dramatically impact the Albany budget.

    2017-2018 Linn County Property Taxes on Assessed Value of $150,000
    Total Property Tax Imposed: $3,011. CARA tax is $131 of the $3,011.

    Albany Revitalization Agency $6,990,200.00, 4.31% of total operating budget of $162.32 Million.

    So, using the $6,990,200 to pay off the current CARA bonds and adding the remainder to the general fund eliminates the debt and helps, and probably, solves the budget problems. In future years the tax revenue windfall is dramatic. Right?

    Sounds like a winning plan to me.

    It boils down to the intended purpose of the property tax. CARA didn’t get voter approval, but the city tax rate and the overlapping tax rates did. Why is CARA siphoning property tax revenue without voter approval?

    This looks like low hanging fruit for the Budget Committee.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “Sounds like a winning plan to me.”
      It would to you since you’ve never had the guts to play in the arena. It’s a loser to me until we get the political will to finish it as designed & outlined. It could have already been done & completed had that happened.

      “It boils down to the intended purpose of the property tax”.
      You didn’t, don’t, and never will “get” URDs – and have tried every way you can to dismantle them. We all get that in spades from your inevitable & constant disdain and trolling.

      “CARA didn’t get voter approval…”
      Big eye-roll on my part! See above. I am supremely glad we have a representative government (by which CARA was formed) and not the dystopian mob-rule based on emotional diatribes which has been forming higher levels of governance.

      “Why is CARA siphoning property tax revenue without voter approval?”
      What part of “representative” don’t you get? See above.

      “This looks like low hanging fruit for the Budget Committee.”
      So are Libraries, Parks, Pools, and any other social-services. All of which make for a better community…

    • centrist says:

      How’d we get to CARA from a piece on street revamp in SE?
      Damascus OR tried the government model that you advocate. They collected taxes but couldn’t get agreement on spending. The city ceased to function

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        He was responding to my comment in an earlier column about Maple Lawn School & City Budget. Have no idea why he did so in this column.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Geez, Hasso, open your mind.

    One alternative is to design streets so that cyclists like you ride n the middle of the street where you are visible. A public campaign would follow to communicate the need to respect cyclists—and for cyclists to follow the rules of the road.

    One could reasonably argue that center bike lanes outside of downtown Albany downtown are a waste of money. But I’m willing to give you bike riders some space in suburbia that avoids right-of-way conflicts with homeowners.

  3. J. Jacobson says:

    As long as Albany continues to grip the past with an iron fist, the government has but one choice…continue to expand the auto-centric vision of the community. This obviates the need for more government land-grabbing as motorized vehicles clog the stalled paths to progress, fouling the air and threatening the very existence of the planet.

    At some point, likely too late, the people of Albany will awaken to this grim fact – thanks to Albany’s obsession with private, on-demand, door-to-door service fueled by their sloth, the end is nigh.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “…the end is nigh.”

      Nahh… The sun will still come up in the morning…

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Right on, except “obviates” means roughly the opposite of what you seem to intend.

  4. Albany YIMBY says:

    Residents surprised they are not entitled to a free chunk of land to park their cars. Shocking!

    Good job HH, checking that with the city engineer.


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