Shelter plan: Council directs $250,000 to new Sheltering Silverton facility

November 2022 Posted in Business, Community

By James Day

The Silverton City Council has signed off on a plan that will put four pallet shelters and a warming facility at the city’s Public Works compound.

A look at the unfinished modular building that Sheltering Silverton will use for a warming center. The center will be located at the city’s Public Works compound on McClaine Street.

A look at the unfinished modular building that Sheltering Silverton will use for a warming center. The center will be located at the city’s Public Works compound on McClaine Street.

Councilors voted unanimously at an Oct. 17 work session to approve a ten-year lease agreement with Sheltering Silverton. Using $250,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that passed through Marion County, the city will erect a modular building, build a fence around the Sheltering Silverton project, and provide insurance for the project. The city previously allocated four two-person pallet shelters that also will be part of the facility to shelter the unhoused.

The operation will not be ready for the usual Nov. 1 opening of the winter season. Sheltering Silverton officials told Our Town that they are hoping to reach an agreement with a Silverton church for a warming shelter that could be up and running by Nov. 15.

The opening date for the combination of the pallet shelters and the modular building “still is to be figured out,” said Kayla Burdine-Rea, executive director of Sheltering Silverton. The group also is working on its protocols for determining who will occupy the pallet shelters. 

The program is designed for those seeking to transition to permanent housing, while the warming shelter is set to house folks for only a night or two.

“We do have ideas of clients that can utilize them but they will need to apply for use to the program,” Burdine-Rea said. “There will be certain requirements for the clients to complete while in the transitional housing program. We have not discussed whether or not we would have married couples utilize the pallet shelters.”

Sheltering Silverton hopes to run the pallet shelter/warming operation year-round, but Burdine-Rea said the group still is working on how to staff and pay for ongoing operations. An opening/public celebration event also is in the future, Burdine-Rea said.

“We cannot express enough the gratitude we have for the way in which the city has helped us out on this project,” she said.

Councilors expressed strong support for Sheltering Silverton and the project during their discussions, while noting that they still have to unknot the issue of water and sewage fees for the operation, as well as the capacity of the warming shelter.

Sheltering Silverton Board President Matt Rosen, who represented the group before the council, advised the city that the group plans to limit its client-based to those within the boundaries of the Silver Falls School District except for emergency situations.

“There is such a strong partnership between Sheltering Silverton and the City of Silverton,” said Mayor Kyle Palmer. “They have weathered the storm and they are here to stay.”

In other council developments from the Oct. 3 and Oct. 17 meetings:

Parking: City Manager Ron Chandler briefed the council on Oct. 17 on four public meetings that have been held to discuss downtown parking issues. Central to the discussion is how to manage parking at the new civic center complex that is going up on the site of the former Eugene Field School. Roughly half the site, toward the south end and Park Street, is being discussed for possible park use as well as parking or some combination of the two. Other possible uses for that piece of the parcel are as a site for a farmers’ market and a gazebo/covered shelter that is being proposed by the Silverton Lions Club that would be similar to the one in Pioneer Park.

Council action on site parking is likely to be months away.

Labor Negotiations: The city voted to approve an agreement with the 14 Public Works employees who are represented by Public Works Association/Laborer’s Local 483 at its Oct. 3 meeting.The agreement, retroactive to July 1, includes 6% raises (a 4% COLA and a 2% “market adjustment”) in the first year. Years two and three call for a COLA increase of between 2% and 4% with a 1% market adjustment. The new agreement expires June 30, 2025. The deal covers 10 specific job classifications, which range in hourly pay from $17.56 for a newly hired facilities maintenance worker to $33.36 for a veteran sewer/water operator III.

The Public Works employees are one of two city departments that are represented by unions. Police officers are represented by the Silverton Police Officers Association. That contract expires June 30, 2023.

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