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City, County, State, Fed governments
June 2006: last gasp?
Federal Highway - new route
West Eugene Wetlands
$17, $88, or $169 million
would have more
traffic lights than
NOT #1 Green City
Downtown Disastrous Development:
Eugene needs intelligent (urban) design
on this page:
new City Hall
Venice on the Willamette: Eugene's program for
Connor-Wooley-Opus development proposal - WITHDRAWN
April 27, 2006
Little Texas neighborhood (Federal Bldg / Whole Foods)
Whole Foods: the Wal-Mart of health food
- A forum for discussing the benefits of local businesses and the impact
of chain and big box stores
The first public relations meeting to promote a new Eugene City Hall
was held March 23, 2006. The literature provided by the consultants at
this pro forma event suggests that the City Manager is more important
than the elected officials since the unelected Manager will have more
space requirements and will also be the "gatekeeper" between
the public and the Councilors and Mayor.
on the Willamette: downtown
Eugene's wetland restoration program disguised as building demolition
Eugene's new swimming pool across from the City Library continues to
fill up with rainwater (and garbage). It's an interesting start for the
ongoing ecological restoration of downtown -- soon to be complemented
by the proposed demolition of the City owned Atrium building and other
structures. If the Piercy administration does permit demolition of their
Atrium building, it would be advisable that they require a less steep
slope along the edge of the new pit this would create, since the pit at
the corner of 10th and Charnelton is definitely a severe public hazard.
(It is astounding that the existing structure was demolished before a
building permit for the replacement building was issued -- a permit that
is many months in the future, at best.) Perhaps the Atrium building hole,
the hole across from the library, and the hole on Willamette Street ("Aster's
hole") could be interconnected with the old Mill Race to transform
downtown Eugene into a West Coast version of Venice ...
TWO TWIN PONDS
ALTERNATIVES TO GARAGES
The Eugene City Council is moving forward with plans to spend about
$30 million on parking garages downtown to subsidize developments for
the Connor/Woolley/Opus and the Whole Foods/Giustina partnerships.
That's a lot of taxpayer money -- about what it cost to build Eugene's
popular new downtown library.
Here, based on the city's own cost estimates, are some other things the
city could use the taxpayer money for:
• Preserve 200 acres of ridgeline and 65 acres of riverfront for
natural area parks, improve natural area access, buy land for a new natural
area in West Eugene and buy land for nine new neighborhood and community
parks for $19.9 million.
• Fund the city's property tax levy to reduce classroom size for
two and a half more years.
• Cover most of the cost of a new $36 million police station.
• Build a new city office building that's one of the most energy
efficient and environmentally friendly buildings in the world -- $25 million.
• Unearth the historic millrace through downtown and build a $4.5
million rail bridge over the canal and path.
• Install a new indoor swimming pool downtown (based on other cities'
• Buy all of the 40 luxury homes and mansions on the local Home
Builders Association's 2004 and 2005 "Tour of Homes" to house
• Write a $130 tax refund check for every man, woman and child in
Eugene. -- Alan Pittman
FUNDING THE GARAGE
You too may find yourself on the side of the opposition if you knew
how council intends to fund the car house. The council is diverting:
$250,000 from storm water funds, $400,000 from riparian funds, $475,000
from library funds, $5,035,000 urban renewal funds, $1,035,000 facility
replacement funds, for a $7,195,000 total, and that's not where it stops.
There is to be a 2006 bond measure for the library, so why will they
sacrifice these funds? Council just raised the storm drain fee a meager
30 cents for stream corridor acquisition and now they are already looking
at diverting these funds to the garage. Council is planning to put a
2008 bond measure on the ballot to pay for a new City Hall. Shouldn't
they be directing the more than $6 million of urban renewal and facility
replacement funds towards the City Hall project? The taxpaying citizens
of Eugene are not a bottomless pit for funding resources. Next time
you open up your ballot to vote on a new levy, find out where the money
actually went the last time you supported a levy.
In the few days after the controversial decision to squander our public
funds on this beast, I was in a state of shock and disbelief. It was
no surprise that Poling, Solomon and Pryor supported this thing, but
our so called progressive Mayor Piercy? I was starting to think she
was Torrey in woman's clothing. And what happened to Kelly and Ortiz?
Lisa Warnes, Eugene
We are completely blown away that developers Conner & Woolley
would refuse to develop the nearly three blocks of property they already
own if they cannot acquire the dozen small pieces of property they do
This puts an unbelievably unfair amount of pressure on those small business
owners who have managed to keep their businesses afloat in a less-than-bustling
downtown Eugene. For what Conner and Woolley are essentially saying
is that if they do not sell to them it is the business owners' fault
that downtown redevelopment is at a standstill.
Frankly, it seems to me that Conner & Woolley are the hindrance
to downtown redevelopment. In the 10 years that we have lived here (four
of them in downtown) it is their property that has sat vacant, surrounded
by established independent businesses that are thriving. Perhaps the
city should use its eminent domain power to condemn Conner & Woolley's
vacant property and find buyers who are willing to redevelop the last
three blocks of prime real estate in downtown without any successful
Kimberly Harper & William Kennedy, Eugene
WHAT IF IT FAILS?
Those who want a vibrant downtown should consider the likelihood that
the proposed subsidized Whole Foods store may not prosper. If it does
not prosper, Whole Foods will close the store and leave Eugene. What
a financial mess and eyesore that would create. A failed, subsidized
Whole Foods could be the worst thing to happen to downtown Eugene.
Here's three points that make me think Whole Foods will fail. 1) Eugene
natural food buyers have shown resistance to chains — look what
happened to Wild Oats. 2) Eugene residents have shown resistance to
shopping downtown — look at all the vacancies. 3) The Market of
Choice new stores, especially their upcoming new south store, are strong
competitors, with better locations and more customer loyalty.
Subsidizing a large national chain, Whole Foods, is too risky, and the
cost of failure too high. Let's tell the city "no" to subsidizing
Steve M. Brown, Eugene
SMELL THE NAPALM
Memo to city council people who think "stealing" private
property or running Kiva out of business for the likes of Whole-Wal-Mart-Foods
is a good idea: Please quit your day jobs and go join the Carlyle Group
in Iraq. Why mess around with small potatoes when the gravy train is
rolling big time in the Middle East? Get the hell out of puny Eugene,
go soak yourself in some real oil, and get to smell the napalm in the
morning. Fulfill your dreams.
And about that WEP thing that won't die, let me tell you that you already
have road maintenance issues in Eugene that you can't afford. Go out
and look at the streets. Are you kidding me? You need another roadway
that you can't afford to resurface in timely manner? Our Massachusetts
roads are all dying because of the Big Dig, which infused billions into
the one project, but sucked the life out of every other roadway project.
The overruns are killing us financially, and potholes are the major
feature of every other road in the state. The feds stuck us with the
overruns, and they will stick you with them too.
The real bottlenecks in west Eugene are the intersections anyway. It
doesn't matter how many people from Veneta can get into west Eugene.
What are they going to do when they get there? Will there be shorter
or longer lines of cars at those intersections on 7th? It's a pipe dream
dreamt up by the same fox guarding the Iraqi Hen House and Big Dig Hen
House in Massachusetts. Federal money for local projects is not a boon
— it's a curse. It creates thieves and liars and a wedge of control
that they will use against you later.
Paul LeBlanc, Beverly, Mass.
I find the plan to hand over the most culturally interesting, pedestrian
friendly part of Eugene (downtown no less!), at taxpayer expense, to
a corporate special interest, shocking and most definitely obscene.
There is no need to condemn thriving businesses because they refuse
to sell. That's dishonest. Besides, one corporate interest does not
need to own downtown anyway. Where is the diversity in that?
The planned parking lot/shopping monstrosity seems to have the intended
purpose of luring 743 more cars into Eugene's downtown. And the benefit
is? Ah, I mean apart from the hefty profit the developers and real estate
broker will make on the deal. What about the rest of us? Increasing
smog and the added obstacle course of cars to dodge? Brilliant!
And aren't the two shopping centers that are already car-accessible
(Gateway and Valley River) having enough trouble luring shoppers to
their stores/filling parking spaces as it is?
Do city planners really believe they'll lure new people into Eugene
with this mostly chain-store mall? National chain stores you can find
in any city or suburb in the U.S.?
Instead of revitalizing downtown, CWO's plan looks more like a sure-fire
way to kill downtown, its unique culture and diversity and most likely
its economy as well. And what becomes of the Saturday and the Farmers
markets? And how about the livelihoods of all those vendors and craftspeople
if those markets are driven away by the smog and cars?
I'm amazed the mayor or City Council would even consider such a boondoggle
as this. I'm a professional and a fairly new resident of Eugene and
for me it was the interesting, friendly and diverse culture that led
me to want to live here.
Please! Let's spend wisely with an eye on the future livability of Eugene.
Deanna Rennings, Eugene
Texas: City of Eugene subsidizing new megastore and Federal building
The new downtown neighborhood around the new federal building should
be named “Little Texas” -- the new “edifice complexes”
planned for that area are extensions of Texan politics and economics.
Our new “Homeland Security” courthouse building is from
the Texas based Bush. It is a component of a repressive preparation for
the economic crises of Peak Oil - the new bankruptcy laws, the Patriot
The City is swapping publicly owned land with the Giustina family in
order to bring in Texas-based Whole Foods, a company nicknamed the “Wal-mart
of Health Food” for their predatory business practices. The Giustina
timber company is a massive sprayer of highly toxic herbicides in Lane
County forestlands and was a huge financial contributor to the Bush-Cheney
campaign. Whole Foods is vehemently opposed to unions and has a track
record of destroying locally owned food businesses -- this would be a
disaster for Eugene. The City also wants a new parking garage next to
the Whole Foods big box, right next to the new Bus Rapid Transit line.
This parking garage would be completed just in time for Peak Oil and subsequent
higher gas prices (and possibly gas rationing).
The proposed (and now canceled) sale of the EWEB complex to the Texas
based Triad corporation -- at fire sale prices -- would further cement
acquisition of strategic Eugene real estate by Texans. (Having both of
the region’s primary medical facilities along river fronts could
result in loss of hospitals during major floods
or if a major earthquake destroyed upstream dams.)