Here is a look at updates on stories we have been pursuing:
CH2M Hill lawsuit
The story: The Albany and Millersburg city councils agreed in December 2017 to take legal action against engineering firm CH2M Hill, seeking a remedy for damages caused by what they claim is defective work on their wastewater reclamation facility and the Talking Water Gardens wetlands. The law firm Markowitz Herbold PC of Portland is representing the cities in the pending litigation.
The latest: Kerry Shepherd, who is representing the cities in the case, said the two sides currently are disputing the proper venue for the case. CH2M Hill filed a removal of the case a couple of weeks ago, asking to take it from Linn County Circuit Court to the U.S. District Court in Eugene. On Feb. 2, the cities filed a motion for remand, asking the federal court to move the case back to Linn County Circuit Court. CH2M Hill now has 14 days to file opposition to the motion to remand and the cities have 14 days to file a reply. After that, the judge in the federal court can decide whether or not to hear oral arguments from the lawyers or simply make a decision.
The story: The Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department is working on a multiphase plan to remodel and expand the Chintimini Senior and Community Center on Northwest Tyler Avenue in Chintimini Park. Part of the plan calls for increasing thef parking at the center, sparking questions at a City Council work session and in a Gazette-Times letter to the editor about whether adding parking is a violation of the city charter. Corvallis voters in May 2017 overwhelmingly approved Measure 2-108, a charter amendment that requires a vote when park land is sold or repurposed.
The latest: Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard, City Attorney Jim Brewer and Karen Emery, director of Parks and Recreation teamed up on a memo in the City Council packet for Monday’s meeting that argues that the Chintimini proposal does not violate the charter. “The parking for public access to the facility should also be considered a park use, so the charter does not require a vote to expand the size of the public parking areas into Chintimini Park,” the memo states.
The story: In November 2014 the Corvallis City Council voted to take over operations of the Majestic Theatre, which had run into budget challenges while being operated by a nonprofit board. Majestic operations are supervised by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The Majestic continues to report improved financially strength in its quarterly reports to the city and theater operators have been lobbying the City Council to make permanent the relationship with Parks and Recreation. Majestic backers have testified at three recent council meetings.
The latest: A staff review and work by the Parks, Natural Areas and Recreation Advisory Board has led to a recommendation that the city increase its outlays to subsidize theater operations. In the first three years of the Majestic under the city umbrella the maximum subsidy was $10,000 per year. A total of $124,000 in one-time general fund dollars has been budgeted for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Staff has suggested that the City Council consider future outlays as part of its discussion about extending the local option property tax levy. Councilors will begin the heavy lifting on that project at their Thursday work session.