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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Apr 24

April 24, 2020

Posted on April 24, 2020 at 5:05 PM by Elena Domingo

We're all getting used to functioning in a virtual world. On Monday night, Council listened to statements by community members applying to serve on the Budget Committee, Civilian Review Board, Human Rights Commission, and Planning Commission. It was an inspiring display of talent, experience and commitment to our community. Council has a hard set of decisions ahead of them.

On Wednesday, Council received a weekly update from Chief Heppel focused on our emerging preparations for a gradual reopening. We will initiate this process thoughtfully, incrementally and in alignment with our local partners, Springfield and Lane County, and the State. We’re all tense about this. I have weekly meetings with two different sets of local businesses and recognize the immense pressure and uncertainty they face in trying to keep their businesses alive, navigate the federal payroll support and emergency loan programs, and support their employees. Several councilors pressed the Chief about testing which is the first and most important watershed in our steps toward re-opening. The good news is that thanks to technical and training support offered by the University of Oregon, both of our local hospitals can now conduct their own testing. This will increase our numbers and shorten the time for results.

Also on Wednesday, Council received an overview of the planning process for the Bethel neighborhood, which is still functioning under a plan completed in 1982. The 2015 Building a Better Bethel plan identified a set of actions for addressing Bethel’s needs for improved infrastructure, recreation, environmental quality, and amenities, as well as specific funding needs. Bethel is in the queue for neighborhood planning behind River Road/Santa Clara, followed by the University neighborhoods – which sounds discouragingly far in the future. At the same time, much has been learned in the River Road/Santa Clara process that can help Bethel build the capacity for a successful planning process. That work can and should begin now to prepare for the formal planning process in five years. Council approved a motion to direct staff to continue neighborhood engagement and capacity, develop a neighborhood planning process and evaluate the range of economic development tools that might be implemented.

Next week, Council will hear a briefing on Monday from City Manager Pro Tem, Sarah Medary, regarding our financial outlook with respect to COVID-19 impacts; and on Wednesday will get an update on the Governor’s framework for reopening the state.