Mayor, city manager take questions about Team Springfield, Glenwood RFQ8 min read
[00:00:00] Mayor Sean VanGordon: Sean VanGordon. I am the Mayor of Springfield and welcome to our second-ever ‘Visit with Mayor VanGordon.’ I’ve got Nancy Newton here.
[00:00:07] City Manager Nancy Newton: Good evening, everyone. I’m Nancy Newton, I’m the city manager.
[00:00:10] Mayor Sean VanGordon: Some of the big things that have been happening and are coming down the line in this fall session are really talking about the relief funds that we’ve gotten as part of the COVID relief package. So the city’s getting about $13, maybe $14 million in relief funds. We had a conversation a few weeks ago about, okay, well, what do we do with this additional money?
[00:00:30] City of Springfield: First hand, it’s Kiersten.
[00:00:33] Kiersten: My question is about climate change. Oregon now has a lengthy and impactful fire and smoke season, which of course is not entirely because of climate change, but that’s a huge factor. And then this past summer we live in a house with no air conditioning and we hit an astounding 113-degree day that I believe was unprecedented. And of course, projections point to these phenomena becoming more and more pronounced and more frequent and a ‘new normal’ for all of us, but with disproportionate impacts. So my question is: How is Springfield City government addressing climate change? And do you have in place, or do you have plans for, a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment? Or a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the city?
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[00:01:21] Mayor Sean VanGordon: We don’t have a lot of that stuff in place. And when we think about what the other jurisdictions that make up Team Springfield have in place, my guess is that they don’t have a lot of that in place at this moment, either. At the state level the governor signed a Climate Change Action Plan that requires us to do certain things. And that conversation is in rules-making right now.
So really we have to start this conversation. We actually don’t have a lot of tree cover in the center of the city, as far as those residences and looking for something simple that we could invest in that could help manage the temperature on the actual streets was something that was profoundly interesting to me. I can tell you from a professional perspective that, for a long time prior to getting into city government, I worked for UPS on routing, right. And there’s a interesting story here because when you think about good environmental initiatives, they all use the term ‘pencil.’ They all have some sort of return. I just want people to see that good environmental initiatives are also good business and good community initiatives as well… So, like I said, we’re really starting that conversation.
[00:02:26] City of Springfield: The next speaker is Chris Wig.
[00:02:28] Chris Wig: Sean, I want to ask about Team Springfield. One of the great things about our community is that our city government, our park district, our utility board and our school district, we all work together to solve the problems and that we don’t let the ball fall between the outfielders, the way that some other jurisdictions that will remain nameless, maybe that happens sometimes. And so I just wanted to ask you about how do you see the city working with those other partners to make life better for everybody here in Springfield?
[00:03:03] Mayor Sean VanGordon: Actually, that’s a really great question. So if you don’t know, we’ve had a long history of collaboration between utilities, parks, schools the city. And that’s what we refer to as Team Springfield. It’s also a cultural set name that we throw around a lot, right? Like the sense of how do we work together, among the jurisdictions referred to. It is Team Springfield. And part of that is all of these jurisdictions really overlap with each other and really that presents an opportunity to collaborate and figure out how to talk more left to right, so that we can serve the public better. I know that there are some members on the school board that would love to have Glenwood in the Springfield School District, because it’s in the 4J School District now. And I consistently tell them, when you guys raise your hand and you guys are ready to champion this, know that the city’s going to be behind you, and the other elected officials are going to support you when you’re ready to make that move. Right. So part of this is knowing when we have to help get everybody at the table and advocate and champion where we need to go as a city.
[00:04:03] City of Springfield: Judy Smith is our next speaker and you’ll be followed by Mike Eyster.
[00:04:07] Judy Smith: Hi, this is Judy Smith. with a nonprofit that is just getting started called Home Share Oregon, and we are getting boots on the ground to help resolve some of the housing crisis that our community faces. Being a resident here for over 30 years, I have held onto this flyer that came out about housing support options. I know that you guys are looking at updating housing codes and creating some options that are a little more affordable. I’d love to hear a little more about that.
[00:04:44] Mayor Sean VanGordon: Right now Springfield’s going through and really rewriting its development code. And we’re considered really a statewide leader in what we think of as housing options. If you think about the housing shortage right now, the reality is that we are probably at least 10 years away before this thing gets solved. So I really want people to start to think of this a long-term problem that we’d have to fix. It’s not going to go away next year.
So we have to create different places for people to go. We have an opportunity to partner and create and look for affordable housing providers and they can maybe build new housing on public land. I would love to see Cornerstone Community Housing buy 525 Mill, which is the old school admin building.
[00:05:28] Judy Smith: Well. Who would I go to, to share the information about this new organization and the idea behind it is to utilize underused housing, specifically spare rooms in people’s homes, and helping them negotiate finding a compatible housemate and perhaps rent to. So who would be the go-to person in the City of Springfield?
[00:05:47] Mayor Sean VanGordon: Neil will send you an email. He’s got your email when your registered and then he can connect you with the right person.
[00:05:52] City of Springfield: Our next speaker is Mike Eyster.
[00:05:55] Mike Eyster: I wanted to comment on the incredible effectiveness of the work in Glenwood. The city has taken concrete actions and has put out an RFQ. And I’m wondering if you might be able to give us just an update on where we are right now.
[00:06:16] City Manager Nancy Newton: The Glenwood development, as you mentioned, issued a request for qualifications. That time period will be closing and we’re going to basically field the team of various development experts to rate and score proposals. And then our timeline is really trying to target having a selection toward the end of the year. And so at that point when that group is identified, we can, as a city begin talking about what is the vision for that area? Our region is going to be getting more attention from the development community. Developers are looking for alternatives and we really do have a beautiful site. And once you come down and actually experience it and, walk around and see the potential there it is an exciting project. It’s a heavy lift and we know that. We’re excited about the potential for this project.
[00:07:13] Mayor Sean VanGordon: That will go to council for an update and review on the 11th. So that would be a great time for folks to tune in and get a look at what exactly is within that plan.
[00:07:25] City of Springfield: Our next speaker is a community member.
[00:07:28] Community Member: I was wondering how are training organizations selected. For example, EPD invited the Force Science Institute to conduct a training earlier this year. But due to their known bias, it appears that training was canceled, which I think was a positive outcome. So I’m wondering how does SPD select training organizations and ensure that they’re assisting with the change that the city is hoping to see?
[00:07:54] John Q: The City Manager noted that many factors are involved.
[00:07:58] City Manager Nancy Newton: I am more than happy to talk further, if you have ideas and suggestions on resources that we can look at.
[00:08:05] City of Springfield: I feel like I’m plugging a lot of future council meetings, but as a reminder, the Police Update from Chief Shearer is October 25th. We have a speaker, Jason Prophet.
[00:08:16] Jason: I want to say thank you for helping me with my noise concerns downtown. That seems to be resolved.
[00:08:26] City Manager Nancy Newton: I want to give credit where credit is due regarding the noise issues around City Hall. I think what you’re referring to there were some people with vehicles that were revving their engines loudly, doing burnouts on the streets. Our police department did outreach to them and talked to them about just kids doing kid things, but it was being disruptive to the neighborhood. And they agreed that they would no longer do that and it was handled without any any real drama or major incidents.
[00:08:59] John Q: Springfield also encourages people to sign up for City Link.
[00:09:03] City of Springfield: City Link is a project that as the mayor stated, it’s really just lifting the curtain on how government works. And so City Link is really just that opportunity to meet with directors, to meet with Councilors and the city manager and the city attorney in a structured curriculum where you just get to talk about, okay, here’s how a city works. It’s online, it’s virtual this year. It’s five sessions between October and November. And applicants can apply now online. So we ask you to apply and if you know someone who’s part of an underrepresented community member and they’re a leader in the community, or they like to be, please have them sign up.