Rethink Eugene Field: Guest Opinion

August 2018 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Stu Rasmussen

On Aug. 6 the Silverton City Council voted to spend over $700,000 of our taxpayer dollars to demolish the historic Eugene Field School to make way for a new City Hall with no plan how to pay for a new building. Here are my three minutes of comments to the council prior to their vote, and if you believe this is a mistake please let the council know before the bulldozers show up. By then it will be too late!

Good evening Mr. Mayor and Council Members. I am Stu Rasmussen, 417 N. Water St. and I am here to speak regarding the construction of a new Police Facility.

First and foremost I wish to make it clear that I personally believe your insistence on the immediate demolition of the Eugene Field School building is a travesty for our community. This building is a signature asset of Silverton with deep historical roots.

This year you budgeted $746,386 for demolition of the building – which is almost one-third of the entire $2.5 million in property tax collected from Silverton residents. Essentially short-changing us on our streets, sewers, water supply, public parks – you know the list!

Most of us private citizens would have a hard time with that but of course you have other pockets to pick – so we taxpayers will also be paying for this debacle through our Sewer Rates, our Water rates and of course that wonderful slush fund of Urban Renewal.

In addition, I am unaware of ANY funding mechanism in place to pay for the proposed future construction of a new Police Facility. That’s usually a bond issue voted on by the community,  as Salem just did. Where is your proposal for a bond election so that we who will be paying for it can have a say in it?

With no money to move forward with the police facility it is foolhardy to demolish a potentially useful building. There are many more uses in the short term for a weather-tight building than there are for a chunk of bare ground.

How about incubator spaces for new businesses?

Meeting spaces for community groups?

Senior housing?

Or – just a thought with the current other turmoil you are mishandling – housing for a small group of homeless women? Everything in one place, safe and secure temporary housing – even plumbing, already installed! And located in a commercial zone with no significant residential impact. A perfect spot for a pilot housing program to see how it could work out.

Yes, I know this would be tough – it would require intelligence and imagination – and a desire to do what’s right for Silverton taxpayers.

I am asking that you table the contract award in Consent Agenda Item 7.2  until such time as there is money in hand to proceed with construction.

That would be the prudent course.

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