Raymond Rendleman's article about Oregon City's Public Works Operations Center (Jennings Lodge, Oregon City Public works developments have parallels, May 1) compares our planned upgrade of the city's existing Public Works Operations Center to a private, for-profit development in Jennings Lodge.
In my mind, there is no legitimate comparison. The city's Public Works Department provides essential services every day, year-round to every citizen in Oregon City — a track record of continuous service from its current site for over six decades.
The private development in Jennings Lodge converts a historic camp retreat to higher-density single-family housing units. The two dilapidated storage buildings on the Operations Center site mentioned in the article are not historically significant, as determined by the State Historic Preservation Office.
The article's questionable points of comparison and lack of information about the city's Public Works facilities inspired me to share the city's vision for continuing to provide responsible public service from the current Operations Center location and how we have been working with the neighborhood to ensure their issues are addressed.
Oregon City's existing Public Works Operations Center has been located at this site, which is in the core of our city in the McLoughlin neighborhood, for over 60 years.
The site is situated on bedrock — not prone to landslides. Our closest neighbors, and many citizens, have observed a facility that has historically been a good neighbor through thoughtful travel, attentive facility maintenance and discreet operations.
The city plans to upgrade the long-outdated city-owned site and replace the Operations Center to accommodate critical water, sewer, stormwater and street operations and maintenance services citywide.
A more intensive master plan to improve the Operations Center was approved in 2010. Since then, at the direction of the City Commission, our staff have been working with neighbors and interested parties to refine plans with the goal to further reduce impacts on the neighborhood. Key changes to the facility plan were drawn directly from neighborhood input:
1. Screened parking for large trucks, and small vehicle parking on the upper level to reduce traffic through the neighborhood, addressing one of the primary concerns from the previous plan
2. Preservation of an area valued by the neighborhood and identified by a basalt rock outcropping and white oak trees
3. Architectural character consistent with the historic district
4. Reduced number of gravel storage bins to minimize large truck deliveries
5. Limiting costly new building construction by instead renovating and repurposing the existing armory as a fleet maintenance shop
6. Reduced overall footprint from the 2010 plan by 25 percent. Smaller space for offices, sized for Public Works Operations staff only.
I strongly support the work our staff have done to engage the neighborhood and make changes that improve neighborhood livability while also ensuring Public Works staff remain on the existing, geologically stable site where they can continue to provide efficient and timely service — as they have for more than half a century.
I encourage you to learn more by visiting the project website at orcity.org/publicworks/project/ci-15-005b or contacting the project staff to get the facts regarding the project.
Dan Holladay was elected as Oregon City's mayor in 2014. Earlier he also served on the City Commission and the Oregon City School Board.