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March 27, 2018

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I watched the meeting on CCTV, and was amazed and angered at Peter Fernandez's reluctant admission that he made a multi-million dollar mistake at the expense of the taxpayers. He didn't even consider having city staff engineers look at the protect and cost of building, he just took the word of the developer's engineers. He obviously did not want to reveal this and it only came about after some solid questioning by Tom Andersen. This seems like a pretty sweet deal for the developers.

Of course this all calls into question what these actual estimates from the developer looked like. It would be nice to have someone knowledgeable about the issue to look at it and see if the initial estimate was even realistic or how in depth it was, and if the possibility exists that this was some sort of sweetheart deal from Fernandez to the developer, where the city assumes the costs of an expensive project to save them a few million bucks. I know that sounds like some sort of conspiracy theory, but at this point Peter Fernandez has zero credibility and seems to be really eager to do his best to do the bidding of developers at the cost of the taxpayers. He should be constantly pushing back and trying to lower costs and be a good steward of our money, not be looking to hand it out and get as good a deal as he can for developers.

Also, Brian, next time you go to a council meeting you should bring a Snickers bar for the mayor. He seems to start getting really cranky if the meeting runs late, even if they are dealing with important issues that need to be tackled (aka the job he signed up for and campaigned for... just not too late I guess!)

Brian, I don't quite follow your logic that it would be so wrong for a reimbursement district in the vicinity of Lone Oak to repay the property owners of Salem if they passed a streets and bridges bond that "loaned" the money needed to build the northern part of Lone Oak, including the bridge. A bond measure should rightfully pay only for major transportation system improvements that are used by a large segment of the community. Lone Oak Road does not qualify. Of course putting the "Tokarski Bridge" in any streets and bridges bond would be kiss of death. No one should believe otherwise.

Jim, the argument against using the Reimbursement District to repay money in a Streets and Bridges bond measure would be along these lines:

First, Lone Oak Road is some variety of collector street. It isn't a local road within a development. Yes, it should have been built by the Creekside developer. But now it seems fair for all property owners in Salem to share the cost of building the bridge over Jory Creek.

Second, this is an unusual Reimbursement District. As noted in this post, City staff said it is by far the largest such district in Salem. It doesn't seem fair to saddle many lot owners in south Salem who will rarely, if ever, use Lone Oak Road with the cost of building the bridge and road. Again, it would be more fair to have this part of a citywide bond obligation.

Third, the people already living in the Creekside area near Lone Oak Road won't pay anything for the road improvements if a Reimbursement District is used to fund the improvements. Making it part of a citywide Streets and Bridges bond would ensure that they would pay for part of the improvements.

Fourth, the South Gateway Neighborhood Association has a justified gripe that much of the Reimbursement District funds are planned to come from the development of 250 lots in what is now the Creekside Golf Course. This would raise about $2.5 million.

But this development is legally unsettled, so it may never happen. And if it does happen, then the Creekside developer should pay for the entire cost of the northern Lone Oak Road improvements, the bridge and road.

So the Reimbursement District should be put on hold until the lawsuit regarding the golf course is resolved. As I say in the post, the southern section of Lone Oak Road can be paid for by the two developers in that area. If the Creekside developer gets to make the golf course into a subdivision, then building the northern Lone Oak Road improvements can be made a condition of subdivision approval.

Lastly, why should only people in south Salem have to pay for Peter Fernandez' screw-up in having the City of Salem agree to pay for a Jory Creek bridge when the cost for this is $5.6 million rather the $750,000 he wrongly assumed? The whole city should pay for this mistake, not just lot owners in south Salem, should the golf course development not move ahead.

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