Scale back the Albany riverfront project? – Hasso Hering

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Scale back the Albany riverfront project?

Written September 6th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Before sunset on the Dave Clark Trail on Sept. 3. Albany’s riverfront project involves the path, too.

If you’re interested in the Albany Riverfront Project, or concerned about its future cost, you might want to tune in to the city council meeting Wednesday, Sept. 9

The council agenda includes a discussion about the project, started by the CARA urban renewal district last fall to upgrade Water Avenue and the riverfront from Monteith Park in the west to Main Street in the east, a distance of 14 blocks.

As I understand it, city officials want the council to consider whether to limit the overall project before the planning goes much further. Instead of redoing all of Water Avenue, for instance how about just the part that would turn the west end into a “plaza street” where events could be held?

Last fall, the Albany Revitalization Agency, which governs the CARA urban renewal program and consists of the city council, hired Portland-based consultants Walker Macy for up to $2.36 million to come up with designs and buildable plans for the riverfront.

So far their designs include major changes in Monteith Riverpark, including a new stage and replacing the Albany Senior Center with a roofed-over market pavilion; various upgrades along the Dave Clark Riverfront Path, and sidewalks and street trees along all of Water Avenue.

CARA had expected to spend a big part of its remaining spending authority of $22 million on this project and then go out of business. Since then two other big projects, converting the former Wells Fargo branch downtown and restoring the former St. Francis Hotel, have run into delays, and it may be that they’ll require more CARA help than anticipated to make them happen. If so, that could mean the waterfront vision has to be scaled back.

The council agenda gives no details of what the discussion Wednesday is supposed to achieve. How that fits in with the city’s interest in transparency is hard to see. Maybe they just want everybody to be surprised by what comes up. (hh)



7 responses to “Scale back the Albany riverfront project?”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “The council agenda gives no details of what the discussion Wednesday is supposed to achieve. How that fits in with the city’s interest in transparency is hard to see. Maybe they just want everybody to be surprised by what comes up.”

    Because all city council meetings are public by state law, they are business meetings and not “town hall” meetings. Staff will bring information forward for discussion. As such, the agenda is very transparent IMO. Unless just for voyeuristic needs, there is no bona fide need to have any more information at this time – simply attend the meeting…

  2. Dave says:

    About the River Front Project:
    Do they realize that it floods out adout ever year or so?

  3. John Klock says:

    Think big. The river defines Albany. When I think of this city it is the Willamette River. So, creating something that enhances the attraction of the river should be the focus. These include: pathway, keeping big trees, enlarging green areas along the path, closing off a street and making it into a park-like setting. All of these things are low to moderate cost.

    • Jim says:

      This park project is no small cost to the city (CARA). AND the $$ are going to Portland. 2.5M for design. This is not the direction CARA was designed for. The total projected additional cost of the park is 22M. I would like to see this project put on hold and allow the new council decide what to do. The Parks Department is loosing funding and will NOT be able to maintain a park that floods every year. The city cannot use cara money for people. SO Parks and Rec are out. So who is going to take care of the new park.
      I am opposed to the project as it stands. Lets keep the money in Albany, have area contractors and architects do the work. Keep it local.

  4. James Engel says:

    On this Labor Day I’ll try a bit of “laboring” to make a comment. CARA & our Council will do what they want. They hold all 5 aces. The remaining money ought immediately be returned to the taxing districts it was skimmed off of in the first place, hold a funeral, and put CARA in it’s proper grave. Too much lipstick (downtown improvements) on a pig just makes an ugly pig.

    • johnny scot van ras says:

      I agree! This is a lame duck City Council and ALL spending issues should be deferred until after the New Year. Let the newly elected city council address spending and budget issues.

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