A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Salvation to redemption? City says no

Written February 13th, 2014 by Hasso Hering

On Wednesday, the Albany City Council voted 4-2 against a language change in the zoning code that would allow the former Salvation Army thrift store on Santiam Road S.E, to be turned into a bottle and can redemption center. Here, on Thursday, I take a look around the site of the proposal, which the council vote rejected. A clarification follows: (hh)

Emma Eaton sent me this email, evidently in response to the video: “You were there, I saw you. Why did you choose not to tell the  whole story? This is an omission of facts to portray or promote your own desired outcome. Heather (?) the current business owner of Legacy Ballet told of her desire to purchase that building and a bid was submitted. She received no answer until the lawyer for Salvation Army told her that “another bid had been accepted.” This is just a reminder of the facts. Also, I would wonder why you would set up the scene during mid-day when we all know that the traffic is backed up and dangerous in the commuting hours, 7-8 am and 4-6 pm? Please show the real picture and offer up all of the reasons that were presented. I like you, please do the right thing. It’s 8 jobs and a lot of impact in an already tottering area. I thank you for your time.”

Emma Eaton is right about my omission, and I’m grateful for her correction. Heather Hill, owner of Legacy Ballet on Main Street near First, told the council at Wednesday’s hearing that she had inquired about buying the vacant building from the Salvation Army but was told that another sale was already in the works. I didn’t hear her say that until I watched all the testimony on cable on Thursday night. At council meetings, I often don’t hear everything unless the speakers speak with a strong and clear voice, which many don’t. I had also missed the statement by the recycling representative, Stephanie Marcus, that the redemption center would have eight people working there. (hh)


3 responses to “Salvation to redemption? City says no”

  1. Heather Hill says:

    I would like to clarify what I said at the public hearing. “Due to some ownership concerns and maintenance issues at our current location, we began to search for a new location and on August 16th, 2013 we submitted an offer to purchase to Todd VanDomelen (broker for the Salvation Army that assured us he could represent both the seller and buyer fairly) for Todd to then present our offer to the Salvation Army. We were told by Todd that the person at the Salvation Army that needed to review our offer was on vacation for a week. When I checked back the following week, I was told that a second offer had been received during that week and they were reviewing both offers. Shortly after I was contacted by phone by Todd and told they had decided to pursue the other offer, and declined ours.” I felt since part of the argument offered in favor of the bottle redemption center being located at that site is that there is “no other interest in the building”, I would share that we had indeed had an interest, in fact our offer was submitted prior to the bottle redemption centers offer, we were just turned down by the seller. The Salvation Army building although vacant for 6 years, is also not the only long term vacant building in Albany available. The old Safeway building, for example? How long will the closed bowling alley behind Fred Meyer be vacant? The old Salvation Army building is agreeably an eyesore, but it is not currently the only one.

    Anyone who spoke in opposition of the zoning change did point out that they felt a bottle redemption center is a good idea, just not at that location. Maybe one closer to the grocery stores that would no longer be required to accept bottle returns, so that we can still conveniently return cans and bottles and do our grocery shopping in one trip.

    Regarding the jobs created by the redemption center, maybe we should be surveying the grocery stores within the two mile radius that would no longer be required to accept bottle returns and see how many employees are in their bottle return departments. Also, what their plans would be for their bottle returns if/when a redemption center would locate in Albany.

    Albany is not the only city that has had debate about a bottle redemption center. http://www.ktvz.com/news/new-bottles-and-cans-facility-sparks-co-debate/-/413192/22221692/-/73c72r/-/index.html
    Please note, in this article it mentions “It will offer three ways to return bottles and cans: staff will hand-count up to 50 containers a day seven days a week; self-serve machines will accept up to 350 containers per day — and there’s an E-Z drop system, where you can fill pre-labeled bags with deposit containers and drop them off 24/7.” We were told that the hours of operation were limited, however this Bottle Drop in Bend offers 24/7 drop off. Why would we have reason to believe the Albany hours would be different? Coincidentally, this Bend location was also a previous Salvation Army building.

    A question that arises in my mind is that if the grocery stores within a two mile radius are no longer required to accept bottle returns, will they? In the bottle bill, it says that “The 2011 legislation also authorizes the beverage cooperative to create a single large-scale redemption center serving a larger area than that served by either of the two centers built in 2010. This pilot project contains provisions that would encourage large beverage retailers within three miles of the pilot redemption center to support the redemption center, and would add penalizing requirement to beverage retailers who do not actively help support the project.” http://www.bottlebill.org/legislation/usa/oregon.htm

    Does this mean the retailers who we have paid as consumers our 5 cents per can to as we purchase the product and those retailers that have paid their 5 cent per can to the distributors when stocking their stores, and the distributors who then pay the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, will no longer receive their 5 cents back from the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative when or if they still accept bottle returns? Seems like that would make all the grocery stores and convenience stores in that radius no longer accept bottle returns, bring an excessive amount of car traffic,, pedestrian and bicycle traffic to the Main Street district.

    There are facts missing. Traffic impact, actual business hours (even the E-Z drop off hours), local grocery stores and convenience store plans if the bottle redemption center locates in Albany. I was there at the meeting, and the city council asked these questions. My understanding is this was a tentative vote, giving staff more time to collect additional facts.

    I do not envy anyone on the city council that has to make these decisions. We can sit back and judge, or we can spend some time researching and hope that all the facts are clearly represented.

    Heather Hill
    Legacy Ballet

  2. tom cordier says:

    How about asking all the businesses in the strip mall if they want more traffic. Perhaps they would come to the next hearing as a group to state their traffic/business losses since SA closed. New businesses with better technology should be encouraged to come here

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    So the center will create 8 jobs?
    How many people will the stores lay off if they don’t have to handle recyclables?


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