Good news! There's a chance Larry Tokarski, the Creekside developer, won't be able to walk away from his obligation to build an extension of Lone Oak Road after all.
The South Gateway Neighborhood Association has sent a letter to Mayor Chuck Bennett, Councilor Steve McCoid, and the other members of the City Council asking that the council reconsider its 7-2 decision to form a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District.
Download SGNA - Reconsideration of Lone Oak Reimbursement District
If Tokarski comes out on top in a legal challenge to his plan to convert the Creekside Golf Course into 210 additional home sites, then Lone Oak Road should be built on flat land that now is the west end of the course (green dots) rather than the steep difficult terrain where Lone Oak Road currently is planned to be built in the Salem Transportation System Plan (red dots).
Here's a screenshot of part of the letter from the South Gateway Neighborhood Association board.
Hopefully the City Council will discuss this idea at its February 12 meeting, because it makes a lot of sense. So much so, I wonder why City staff didn't suggest the idea, rather than leaving it to the neighborhood association to come up with it.
As the letter says, much of the funding for the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District is expected to come from the development of 210 home sites on what is now the Creekside Golf Course. A $9,212 fee would be assessed on the development of each lot.
But this eventually would only bring in about $2 million, and right now the cost of the STSP Alignment for Lone Oak Road is $7.5 million. This is why taxpayers all over Salem would end up paying for the road through a future Streets and Bridges bond -- as I noted in my Salem Weekly cover story, "Larry Tokarski leaves the public with a $7.5 million development bill."
In 2007 Tokarski started to construct the missing northern portion of Lone Oak Road. Preliminary earth grading of the road occurred and a box culvert was installed over Jory Creek. So this shows that Tokarski knew he was obligated to make those improvements.
But he never completed them. A City of Salem staff report says, “Work on the project was halted by the developer and no additional work has occurred since 2007. At present there is no timetable for constructing the bridge and remaining sections of Lone Oak Road SE.”
...If the next streets and bridges bond measure includes a request for $7.5 million (in current dollars) to build the northern portion of Lone Oak Road and the Jory Creek bridge, it may be saddled with an unfortunate nickname, “The Tokarski Bailout Bond.”
My guess is that Tokarski legally will prevail over the Creekside Neighborhood Association, which is trying to prevent the golf course from being turned into a subdivision. If this happens, Tokarski should be required to pay the full cost of building the extension of Lone Oak Road through what is now the golf course.
Congratulations to the South Gateway Neighborhood Association for coming up with a creative and workable alternative to forming a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District. As the association's letter says, plans for the District should be put on hold until the legal dispute over the golf course is settled.
If the golf course becomes a subdivision, then Lone Oak Road can be built on the flat land of what once was the course, and Tokarski clearly should pay for the road, since it will run through his new 210-lot Creekside development.