April 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Eugene councilor: Legislature’s failure to fund safe sleep sites ‘devastating’

4 min read
Eugene City Councilor Lyndsie Leech also told River Road that the city's relationship with Union Pacific "has been tense and strange for a long time."

The city was counting on help, but state legislators failed to deliver. One city councilor says she was devastated. At River Road Aug. 14:

Councilor Lyndsie Leech (Eugene, Ward 7): We are also looking at: How do we keep our safe sleep sites open for the long run? We applied for $7.5 million from the state to keep them open and the state denied our application. To me, that’s really devastating. We’ll be looking at ways to continue to fund that, work with the county, because we were told all this money is coming down to help with these things. and, it was to me really devastating, again.

[00:00:40] And we’re looking at funding options for some of our climate action goals as well. And so those aren’t built into the current budget. We hope that this finance committee can help us achieve those goals.

[00:00:53] So that’s a long way of saying: Where are we going to find $15 million to save the Ems?

[00:00:59] John Q: The summer’s hot topic: Should the city pay $15 million to keep its minor league baseball team?

[00:01:05] Councilor Lyndsie Leech: I’ve been getting hundreds and hundreds of emails every single day about ‘Save the Ems!’. And I want to take a pulse about how we feel as a community organization, and just maybe by a show of hands. What do you think: Save the Ems? Save the Ems! Maybe some undecided? (laughing)

[00:01:28] So the Ems are needing about $45 million of their $100 million project. And they’re asking about $15 million from the city. They haven’t sent, to my knowledge, as of the last time I talked to the city manager, a true built-out proposal from what the funding would go towards exactly, how much they exactly need. When I heard, I said, ‘Where do you get that $15 million number?’ And they said, ‘Well, we need $45 (million) and we just kind of split it in between the three agencies.’ It doesn’t feel, like, thought-out enough for me to say ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ on that.

[00:02:11] The question (from those in attendance) was: ‘We already have Cuthbert, so why would we need another venue of a similar size?’ Yeah. And that is a good question.

[00:02:23] So, it’s definitely a much longer process and conversation that we’ll have over the fall, but I know there’s a lot of interest in the community. We hear you. We hear everyone’s voices on both sides, but, you know, overwhelmingly, so many voices that are in support of: ‘We want this cultural institution to stay.’

[00:02:42] There’s going to be some talking throughout the entire fall this year and a lot of opportunity for public comment and so if you’re passionate either way, come to our public forums. Talk to us about what you hope and what you’re willing to see, and maybe we can save the Ems.

[00:03:01] John Q: One comment came from an online participant: ‘Please look at the environmental footprint.’

[00:03:08] Councilor Lyndsie Leech: Absolutely. I’m trying to bring back the triple aim to the council and the triple aim is financial, environmental, and equity impacts to every decision that we’re trying to make. They used to have that on all of our information sheets just to give us information. How is this going to impact our community? And I’m trying to get that back so that we can see, what are these choices we’re going to make and how are how are they going to impact every aspects of our community. So thank you for your perspective on that.

[00:03:42] John Q: One participant said the railroad tracks near Garfield are becoming a trash dump.

[00:03:50] Councilor Lyndsie Leech: Union Pacific is currently getting a daily fine at the highest expense, and it doesn’t seem to be really making a difference. I don’t know if they’re actually paying it. And so, it’s really frustrating. I’m not going to lie. The relationship between the city and the railroad has been tense and strange for a long time. Because it’s private property, they have jurisdiction, but they’re breaking codes, and so the city is trying to enforce, and it just, it feels impossible to me sometimes.

[00:04:24] But we’re going to keep working at it, and I’m hoping, eventually, daily fines are going to make them clean it up.

[00:04:32] John Q: To hear more from the RRCO Aug. 14, 2023 meeting, visit their website, and get involved by subscribing to your neighborhood newsletter.

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