Here's a photo that warms my citizen activist heart:
Salem-area residents meeting this evening at the Carousel to talk about better alternatives to the ill-advised proposal to convert part of the Carousel parking lot into a private access road to the Pringle Square development.
Elaine Sanchez and Hazel Patton, two women who know how to get good things done, organized and led the meeting. I was hugely impressed by them and everybody else who had things to say.
Key theme: everyone wants to see the old Boise Cascade downtown riverfront property redeveloped. This isn't a Stop the Development crusade.
The aim of Pringle Square Access is to point out the better way: leave much-beloved Riverfront Park and the Carousel alone, and build a new public railroad crossing at Ferry Street. Sweet and simple. This is a better plan for the development, and it is a better plan for the public.
Everybody wins. Check out the Southside Access plan. It makes great good sense.
Why Southside Access is a Better Way
- Unobstructed 24/7 access for all emergency vehicles
- Maintains safe access and adequate parking for everyone
- It can be built without changing or shutting down the carousel
I'll add another reason why the Salem City Council should either vote "no" next Monday night on the proposal to use the Carousel parking lot for access, or postpone a decision until alternatives can be assessed in an open, collaborative, deliberative fashion.
Converting part of RIverfront Park to a private use will require the City to go through a lengthy, complex, and expensive "6(f)" conversion process.
Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund money was used for Riverfront Park. The City agreed to keep this property for public recreational use "in perpetuity." Meaning, forever. Backing out of that agreement is only possible by applying to the National Park Service for permisson to convert some of the park to a private use.
This won't be easy. An Environmental Impact Statement must be completed. The City will have to show that there are no viable alternatives to giving Pringle Square access through the Carousel parking lot. But there are!
Pringle Square Access has a plan for an excellent alternative. So why go through a 2-year 6(f) conversion process when there's a very good chance the National Park Service will end up denying the City's application?
This is one reason Pringle Square Access calls its plan The Better Way. Because it is.
Now, I suspect the Pringle Square developers have a fantasy of side-stepping the federal regulations through some political lobbying and backroom deal-making. Well, good luck with that. The Land and Water Conservation Fund folks are familiar with the games developers play.
And the Salem citizenry are awake, aware, and ready to fight any attempt to bypass the normal LWCF conversion application process.
So if the City Council votes "yes" next Monday, what they will be voting for is a one, two, or even three year delay in the developer gaining public access for Pringle Square. Again, that's how long it typically takes for a 6(f) conversion application to be processed by the state Parks and Recreation Department and the National Park Service.
Us Salemians who don't want anyone messing with Riverfront Park, and do want downtown riverfront development, need to get behind The Better Way. Give a "like" to the new Pringle Square Access Facebook page.
Write the Salem City Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell them you support the Southside Access plan, and you don't want the Carousel parking lot used for a private driveway.