June 20, 2017
Residents: Deb Comini, Santiago Sorocco, Brian Hart
Organizations: Simon Sandusky and Jeanine Knight, Union Gospel Mission; Jim O’Keefe, Oregon Center for Clinical Investigations, Carol Hendrix and Marty Vomund, Church Street Associates
City and County Representatives: Councilor Kaser; Julie Tichbourne, Engineering Program Mgr, Public Works Department
The regular meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem. The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.
The minutes of the May meeting were approved by unanimous consent.
Councilor Kaser reported that the City is reworking its “sit-lie” ordinance in response to complaints from downtown businesses, and will be removing “a couple” of benches from the sidewalk around Liberty Plaza, 285 Liberty Street (southwest corner of Chemeketa and Liberty). The Urban Development Department has reported that City funds will be used to return two “arta potties”, removed last fall from their locations behind the Bishop Building and on Front Street, back to downtown. It’s not known when, exactly, that will happen. Following a dozen or so meetings with various focus groups, the City has initiated a project to develop a downtown streetscape design plan by issuing a request for proposal which will close July 14, 2017. There will be an opportunity for public input in the fall. It’s expected that the Salem Main Street Association will integrate the design plan with its revitalization strategies. Beginning June 22, artist Damien Gilley will begin work on the “Mirror Maze” mural on the short, rounded wall in the alley between Commercial and Liberty Streets NE. The 560 square foot mural will be unveiled on July 5, 2017 as part of the First Wednesday event. Artist Blaine Fontana will begin his “Waldo Stewards” mural on the Chemeketa Parkade’s east stairwell on July 10. This 1,819 square foot mural will wrap the parkade stairwell and will be finished the week of July 24. The City is working with the federal authorities to remove the concrete slab from the Commercial Street underpass and create a walkway on the north side of Pringle Creek
The board heard a presentation by Julie Titchbourne on the new signal construction at Union and Commercial Streets NE, which is expected to start July 1, 2017, and be completed in November (the poles are, however, on backorder). The construction includes water quality basins, ADA pedestrian barricades, and bulb outs on the eastern corners of the intersection, which will take a couple of parking spaces, a concern of residents at 601 Commercial Street.
In public comments, Brian Hart invited the board to enjoy music at 28 venues as part of Make Music Day, from 9am to 10pm, on June 21. The board then heard from Carol Hendrix and Marty Vomund, who have owned 701 and 745 Church Street since about 1994. Mr. Vomund also owns 575 D Street. They re-raised the livability issues expressed by Ms. Hendrix in emails to Councilor Kaser and CANDO’s chair, discussed here, which they blamed on the Homeless Outreach Advocacy Project (HOAP), which since 1995 has provided services to the homeless at 703 Church Street NE. Ms. Hendrix said she had been in communication with Northwest Human Services, which operates HOAP, and had had a good response. Jeanine Knight and Simon Sandusky offered responsive comments on behalf of the Union Gospel Mission. Asked what action they were asking the board to take, Ms. Hendrix indicated she wanted the City to improve the situation, and Mr. Vomund indicated he wanted CANDO to advocate to have HOAP provide its services somewhere else, perhaps in a light industrial district, and also to have the City provide a place for people to store their belongings. They said they’d been collecting signatures from Church Street neighbors, and, on Councilor Kaser’s advice, were composing a letter to the City Council. The board also heard comments from Jim O’Keefe, who alleged, among other things, that HOAP clients were selling their medications right outside HOAP’s entrance, and that the area around HOAP was a “major drug hub.” He asserted he had made countless reports to the police and shared video footage of the “med-money exchanges”, but had not received a satisfactory response. He said he had “given up on the drug issue.” He also said that there had recently been a “huge fire” behind HOAP, and three buildings had been “hit” with graffiti. Vice-Chair Michael Livingston suggested that Ms. Hendrix and Mr. Vomund contact SPD’s crime prevention unit to inspect the property and offer advice on how to discourage people from using it as a place to sleep, etc. At seven o’clock, the chair closed the comment period and suggested the board, after reflection, would consider at its next meeting, July 18, whether and what action might be taken.
The meeting adjourned at 7:02 p.m.