[NLC] A riverfront for all Eugene...
matthews at artifice.com
Wed Mar 3 08:57:16 PST 2010
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
What would a riverfront for all Eugene look like?
I can't say. We need to work that out together as a community, through a fair and open process, representing and respecting all voices, with solid consensus-based technical work - both ecological and economic - at its foundation.
I can say, in the absence of a process with integrity - in the absence of of the most basic actual environmental accountability - that the current EWEB draft master plan is not it.
With the EWEB Riverfront Master Planning process coming to another pubic meeting tonight (7pm at the at Hilton, 3/3/10), to review a potential final draft version of the design, I've been wanting to share some thoughts - having had a close-up view through a couple of dozen or more meetings, public and private, with the EWEB team, working to try to keep the process truly connected to our community values around respect for nature and for public inclusiveness.
It's been difficult to figure out what what to say.
We had real hope for this process, even after the last EWEB board loaded the advisory committee with Chamber of Commerce people. (The current Chamber director, a past president, a sand and gravel leader, a Pape...)
And the design team started out saying all the right things about doing good technical work to find the right balance between the riparian ecology, public open space, and development of the most of the EWEB site.
A good article in the Weekly helps show where things started going off track:
EWEB Riverdance - Will utility compromise on jostling park, building priorities?
Eugene Weekly, 2009.1217
While of course the RG continues it's old-school whitewash.
Please look deeper than the official public involvement process, which has turned into another PR snow-job, using the same kind of public meeting control techniques that made a mess out of the City Hall master plan project just a few years ago.
The design team has created a raft of misleading green-colored graphics in PowerPoint presentations to push the idea that they're master planning for a green riverfront. They want to poll you again and again with electronic clickers asking narrowly-defined questions that don't get at our real values.
These are graphics in which "green streets" - streets for cars, no mistake - are tallied up as part of the public open space!
Please don't be fooled. Please look deeper, and think about our wider options. And please, speak up for a riverfront for all Eugene.
Speak up for a balanced riverfront project, not just a business boondoggle. Speak up for a riverfront for all Eugene, not just for customers and tourists. Not just for the Chamber of Commerce crowd.
Speak up for Eugene's community front porch on the river. Speak up for the herons, the trout, the salmon who had this river long before we were here.
These are some suggested livability and environmental tests for the Riverfront Master Plan:
- Is it a riverfront for all Eugene, not just for customers and tourists?
- Does it provide at least two acres of accessible public riverfront open space, in one good chunk, a decent public gathering space in the heart of the project?
- Does the site provide one clear shared public destination place, a place with the scale to be a city-wide focus and a real public anchor for our long-suffering downtown?
- Does it provide a decent ecological-compromise 200 foot riparian setback, not just the bare minimum 100' that's allowed by regulation?
- Does the design lay down the riverbank, at least above the regular high water line...
- so we can actually see the water from the public space?
- to create room for people?
- to restore some of the seasonal riverbank ecology?
- Does the design provide so much new development land that it would suck the life out of downtown for another generation?
Did you know that the entire core area of the EWEB site, between the Steam Plant and the headquarters building, back to the railroad tracks, is officially part of the statewide Willamette Greenway?
The Chamber of Commerce wrote in an email to their members last week, calling them out to the meeting tonight...
"...A small but vocal selection of people has begun to raise the traditional litany of complaints." *
I guess that means, the "traditional" cry to save a place for people, and a place for nature, as well as a place for commerce. But who owns the river? Who owns EWEB? Whose values should be expressed in this process?
Please, speak up for a riverfront for all Eugene.
with all best wishes,
* Eugene Area Chamber, Issues Watch, February Edition, 2/26/2010
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