A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

What CARA should do

Written June 4th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Displays summarized potential projects at CARA's open house.

Displays summarized potential projects at CARA’s open house.

Albany’s’ city council and downtown redevelopment board are hoping to pick one or two major “public infrastructure” projects to pursue, and I’m afraid Wednesday’s open house won’t help them much in making their choice.

Councilor Rich Kellum and others study a map of CARA projects made by Tom Cordier, a critic of the program.

Councilor Rich Kellum and others study a map of CARA projects made by Tom Cordier, a critic of the program.

I wasn’t there for the whole three hours at the riverfront Wheelhouse. But during the first hour and near the end, when I did drop by, attendance was sparse and consisted mainly of the usual suspects, a smattering of city officials, members of the advisory board, two longtime critics of the program, and perhaps a couple dozen private citizens interested in the economic revival of the center of the town.

They were asked to rank half a dozen potential projects: Enhancing the riverfront Dave Clark Path with viewpoints and such; beautifying the “downtown streetscape;” doing the same along various segments of Water Avenue and Main Street; expanding Monteith Riverpark eastward into a parking lot; and paying for all or part of a new downtown fire hall and a new or remodeled and enlarged police headquarters.

From my point of view, I’d like to see Second Avenue between Washington and Lyon improved the way First was when the Central Albany Revitalization Area first got started. That would tie downtown together more and maybe encourage investment in buildings and businesses on Second. I’d skip all the other streetscape projects for various reasons. Water Avenue can’t be substantially improved until that segment of the old Oregon Electric rail line is retired. If the riverfront path attracts a lot more people, it will be useless as a bike route. And the Monteith expansion wouldn’t be much of a park, cut off from the main park by the senior center while taking away parking needed on many occasions.

The police and fire stations don’t strictly fit the economic revival mission of the renewal district and would be more properly funded by a bond issue, as the city council proposed last year.

If it was up to me, I’d look for a public project to enhance the entire residential neighborhood east of Lyon Street. One thing that might do the trick is to pour a ton of money into street reconstruction so that would-be new residents and builders would get the idea that the district is coming back.

I have no idea what the open-house rankings of the various projects will turn out to be. I assume the CARA board will recognize the limitations of such events. Their results are rarely in line with what the public in general wants. So the renewal board is on its own. (hh)

4 responses to “What CARA should do”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “attendance was sparse and consisted mainly of the usual suspects, …and perhaps a couple dozen private citizens interested in the economic revival of the center of the town.”

    While that may be true, any new input that was not available before, is always very good to hear/see…

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    It seems premature for CARA to include new fire and police facilities. The Burright/Morse committee hasn’t completed their debate on this issue and a recommendation has not been made to the City Council.

    Didn’t the City promise to not interfere with the deliberations of the committee?

  3. Bob Woods says:

    Hasn’t Gordon been loudly pounding on using CARA money for police and fire for the last 6 months or so?

    It seems like only Gordon can make his will known. Elected officials listening and talking is apparently defined as interference by Gordon. Somehow Gordon takes that to the point of an imminent decision on police and fire funding via CARA, something that was not reported in this account, nor anything I’ve seen reported elsewhere.

    Reasonable people expect an open and transparent discussion in a free society by all, Gordon.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    What CARA should do? Quit siphoning money money out of levies voters pass that’s what! This is a back door method of financing grandiose schemes on the pretext of urban renewal. Let the scheme stand alone for a vote to see if voters buy into the deal. If a bank won’t finance it then that should be a hint it’s way too risky. Let the city council & their hand picked band of cohorts put up their own money!… JE


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