January 26, 2023

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

River Road looks to new Ward 7 councilor for help with greenway

4 min read
The River Road Community Organization looks for help from newly-sworn-in Ward 7 Councilor Lyndsie Leech. The community is promoting a different vision for the greenway than the staff proposal that comes to the Planning Commission in early January.

Lyndsie Leech is officially sworn in as Ward 7 city councilor. The River Road Community Organization hopes she can jump right in and help with the greenway.

[00:00:10] Jon Belcher (RRCO co-chair): Those of you who were at the meeting on Nov. 30 basically heard the city is abandoning all the land use components of the neighborhood plan, with the exception of the greenway ordinance. They saved the greenway for the end to determine a clear and objective pathway, and this is their proposal of how to deal with the issues in the greenway. What we want to see in our neighborhood plan does not coincide with what they’re proposing to do. Our desire is to keep the greenway the way it looks now and not have new buildings being built—looming over—the bike path, etc. That is not reflected in what they’re proposing.

[00:00:55] So I have been trying to see if we can’t modify what’s before the city council so it actually meets our need because this is an opportunity. It’s not an ideal opportunity, but once this door closes, we’re stuck with whatever’s left.

[00:01:09] John Q: The greenway is scheduled for discussion before the Planning Commission in January.

[00:01:16] Dan Isaacson (Planning Commission chair): To date, I will tell you I’ve received exactly zero emails from the community on the proposed staff changes that have come out. And I know that there are concerns within this board as well as community members, …so I know that the feelings are there. I think it’s the holiday that’s causing some folks to get lost in the mix of things. And so I’m not entirely sure that an issue this big gets really resolved 10 days after everyone kind of comes back from holidays.

[00:01:40] So I’ve asked the staff, again, to kick the can down the road,  unfortunately, like, another couple weeks, swap something out on the schedule on the Planning Commission side.

[00:01:50] My request is going to be denied. I mean they’ve already gone to the expense of notifying the neighborhood. But staff needs to understand that this is a different reception than they got on HB 2001.

[00:01:59] John Q: One board member had a theory about what was happening in the background while Dan was speaking.

[00:02:05] Mysti Frost (RRCO board): All right, I kind of missed half that because I was too concerned, worried that you were mixing bolts with screws. But I’ll try to follow along.

[00:02:14] John Q: In addition to spinning up quickly on the greenway, River Road hopes Lyndsie will introduce herself in the next newsletter.

[00:02:22] Susan Kittleson (RRCO board): Since Lyndsie Leech is not even part of the River Road Community Organization, but she lives on River Road, she doesn’t really understand who we are and what we do. So I think it’s really important that we educate her on who we are and what we do. But I think it’s also really important that she educate our community as to who she is.

[00:02:45] Stefan Ostrach (RRCO board): I’m wonder why we’re focusing on the new city council person and not the new county commissioner. Most of us live in the county, not the city.

[00:02:55] Jon Belcher: We have two new elected officials, not just a city councilor, but a county commissioner, and that’s Ryan Ceniga. And I would suggest if space allows, that we give them both that opportunity to connect with us in our next newsletter.

[00:03:10] Susan Kittleson: Yeah. Since nobody knows Lyndsie and we weren’t allowed to vote on Lyndsie, I think it’s really important we focus on her first.

[00:03:16] Jon Belcher: We weren’t allow to vote on Ryan either. (Same thing. Yeah.)

[00:03:19] Susan Kittleson: Yeah. Point taken. We have no voice.

[00:03:22] John Q: In an odd quirk of fate, the current city councilor and county commissioner never received a single vote from residents of River Road.

[00:03:29] County redistricting maps were delivered too late, forcing the old districts to be used through 2022. And after the first recall of a city councilor in Eugene history, the interim councilor was selected not by River Road voters, but by representatives from other wards.

[00:03:45] According to one councilor, the intense lobbying crossed a line. At the Dec. 14 meeting:

[00:03:53] Council President Greg Evans: I am not going to be influenced by racial politics played by certain people at this table.

[00:04:01] I reject, resent that repugnant behavior on the part of a certain councilor.

[00:04:10] It’s racist, it’s repugnant, and it’s against everything in my 62 years on this planet that I have worked for, I have stood for in terms of civil rights, civil liberties, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. I’m putting you on notice.

[00:04:33] John Q: One week later, that unnamed councilor has still not responded with a public explanation. We contacted Council President Evans to see if anyone reached out privately to apologize. He offered a terse answer. It was just one word: No.

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