There were two major topics of discussion at the July 7 Shady Cove council study session and meeting: the grant to make major improvements to Hwy. 62 through most of the city and the Water Task Force’s recommendation on which citywide water system to pursue. It could be said the council spent their day and evening in search of compromise; but what they are truly searching for is community.
Community can be defined as: “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location” and this seems to be how the community of Shady Cove is reacting to these hot topics; like random folks who happen to share the same zip code. What the council is hoping to create is a community which is closer to the word’s origin.
In short, council feels if the city can’t pull together as a community on both issues the future of Shady Cove will be pretty grim.
The study session was a discussion with several members of ODOT regarding the Traffic Enhancement Project. The project will improve Hwy 62 from the bridge to Cleveland St.; including re-paving, adding a bike lane, gutters and sidewalks. Some possible additional perks could be some aesthetic new lighting, the possible burying of power lines (no more outages from falling trees!) and the setting of a main water line for a citywide water system..
The controversy: a very few businesses near Rogue River Drive and Hwy 62 will have to change their customer parking area when the improvements are made. It was generally felt these businesses would be less than happy with the changes but none of the affected business owners were in attendance. ODOT and council spent the bulk of the meeting discussing possible parking options they hope these business owners will be happy with. The project won’t happen until summer of ’14 or ’15, so there is time to resolve possible issues. ODOT and council members strongly feel the improvements will be a great benefit to the “community at large” and that it is imperative everyone is on board.
Many folks feel a citywide system isn’t needed primarily based on the cost, according to the vote the last two times the issue was on the ballot. This was clearly illustrated during the public comment prior to the Water Task Force’s presentation/recommendation. One resident, Steve Mitchell, commented that he does not believe the city needs a system. He added he “hears” some don’t have water, but he does and therefore isn’t in favor of paying for citywide water. Further he asked the task force to provide documentation on their claims that: a) business have left due to water issues b) there are shortage issues at all.
During his presentation task force Chair Patrick Keene did present documentation on both issues. Fortuitously there was a newspaper article in that day’s paper wherein the owner of Shady Cove Hardware noted he is expanding in Eagle Point and not Shady Cove because of the city’s lack of water. Keene also provided documented studies on citywide wells; of 774 researched wells 216 have problems (i.e. have had to dig deeper, have gone dry altogether of have been abandoned).
Keene then proceeded with his presentation on the task force’s road to recommending either Option I (build a system from scratch) or Option II (by Shady Cove Water Works and build out) from the Water Master Plan. The force read the entire plan and penned down 60+ questions on the two options. They then met with Joe Strahl of Public Works Management (SCWW) and Bill Pavlich of HGE (author of plan) to get their answers. Then they made plus/minus lists on key issues. Only in their final meeting did they discuss preferences. Their unanimous recommendation was to go with Option II. With both options being nearly equal; they feel Option II will more quickly get water to areas of the city which need it most and has some potential for “immediate” income via selling irrigation and bulk water. They also presented a list of considerations surrounding Option II (i.e. are all permits properly filed, is equipment under warranty, etc) any one of which could be an Option II deal breaker.
Still, with the course decided will it all come to a halt with a city vote? This is the concern of council and citizens in favor of the system.
Council feels without a system more folks will be without water, more businesses will leave, contractors will not build, property values will continue to decline and the city’s future may be no future at all. Mayor Ron Holthusen made a plea for that Old English “fellowship” community saying folks need “To take the longer view. Take the larger view. You are part of a community.”
With that in mind the recommendation is only the first of many steps, considerations will need to be looked into and citizens will need to be met with, possibly in a series of town hall meetings – it will take time to find out exactly which kind of community Shady Cove is to become.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent