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No new parking districts for Corvallis ... for now

No new parking districts for Corvallis ... for now

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Once again, the Corvallis City Council battled its way through a session dominated by parking.

On Monday night's agenda were a pair of community requests, both of which would have added territory to Parking District C between the Oregon State University campus and downtown. Paradoxically, also on the agenda was a resolution that called for a halt to parking district expansions pending a city parking study and a possible overhaul of the current city expansion process.

Ward 9 Councilor Andrew Struthers noted that it was odd to be voting on approving district expansions right before a vote that could shut the door on further districts.

Struthers, it should be noted, is in his first term on the council. A veteran would know that logic doesn’t always apply to the Corvallis parking dilemma.

In the end, during a meeting that was entering its fourth hour as the Gazette-Times deadline loomed, councilors voted down, on 8-1 and 6-3 votes, both proposed district expansions and voted 9-0 to back the hiatus.

The votes came after 61 minutes of community comments. Ten of the 13 speakers addressed the parking issue, but in many respects the testimony roiled the waters rather than provided clarity. A series of OSU students testified with divergent views on the parking situation. One noted when asked about OSU’s parking policies that they are not “truthful” and that the university is a “private organization run by the federal government.”

City transportation services supervisor Lisa Scherf was on hand to provide some interpreting services as she fielded a question from Ward 6’s Nancy Wyse on the logic of the testimony.

“Parking is very personal,” Scherf said. “What time of day you need to park matters. How far it is for you to go to work. Everybody speaks about their own situation.”

The first expansion proposal affected only the Park Plaza and other apartment buildings just west of the library and north of Monroe Avenue. Amid concerns that the plan could bring a veritable blizzard of 270 new permit-holders into the equation, councilors squashed it on an 8-1 vote, with only Wyse voting in favor.

The second proposal involved properties to the south and west bounded by Southwest Ninth Street, Southwest 10th Street, Southwest Adams and Southwest Washington Avenue. This addition would have added only 30 or so permit-holders, but the momentum was running against expansion. The plan failed on a 6-3 vote, with Wyse, Barbara Bull (Ward 4) and Ed Junkins (Ward 8) backing the expansion plan.

The debate on the hiatus then zigged and zagged through a couple of amendments, one that changed the end date of the hiatus to match the fiscal year and the other that added another clause mandating community input in the new process to come.

When the ensuing discussion dipped into deviations on how the city study might be conducted, Mayor Biff Traber reminded councilors that the issue under review was the hiatus only … and councilors responded with a 9-0 vote to freeze expansions. For now.

In other action, councilors unanimously approved a community-developed plan to place a bronze statue of Dustee the READ (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) dog in the children’s area of the main library branch. In the program, dogs listen as children read aloud to them.  

Dustee died in June after more than 14 years serving thousands of students in Corvallis and Albany schools.  Backers of the plan previously received unanimous approvals of three city committees and the Library Foundation Board before bringing the issue to the council. The OKs are required as part of the city’s public art selection process.

With the approval in hand, backers now will start raising the approximately $13,000 it will take to bring the project to fruition. Artist Terri Malec of the Eastern Oregon town of Joseph has been selected to cast the statue.

Backers hope to have the statue honoring Dustee to be in place by this winter. Those wishing to participate in the fundraising campaign can do so at www.DollarsForDustee.com.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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