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home : letters : letters August 19, 2014


2/4/2014 1:02:00 PM
Letters to the Editor 02/05/2014

To the Editor:

Years ago when the public was invited to weigh in on the best potential future usage for the forest service property between Pine Street and Highway 20, I had a letter published in The Nugget expressing support for the idea of a performing arts amphitheater. I still think it's an intriguing concept well worth our extended, careful, objective consideration as something well-suited to the character of our community.

I also easily grasp why some people would immediately tend to be opposed to it. Many people are living in Sisters Country not just for the natural beauty, but also for the relative smallness and quietness of the human imprint; they often have a secure outside income, and thus are not as deeply interested in economic development for Sisters as others would be. They're here not so much with a community mindset but with a priority for privacy in their own quiet space. Their way of thinking is understandable and reasonable; their views on any issue concerning our town deserve to be aired and addressed.

What is not understandable is why adult citizens would try to shout down and shut down the amphitheater project just as it's being launched into a full public review, as if that process itself was worthy only of contempt. That appeared to be the attitude of many who attended the Jan. 29 meeting in the council chamber, with discourtesy and disrespect on display. I wonder if that behavior will only hurt their cause.

Meanwhile, a big thanks to the city staff and city council for the thoroughness of the information you prepared and presented. Also, I trust that in future meetings you'll be better prepared in regard to the meeting place environment and dynamics and the easy distribution of the data you've worked so hard on.

Thomas Womack

•••

To the Editor:

I agree with the need for finding new and creative ways to support our local businesses. I support our city council's pursuit of this agenda, along with constructive community input, to explore new options. At the amphitheater presentation at City Hall, city officials only shared the many reasons why the proposed amphitheater seemed to be viable. From my perspective they focused primarily on the "up" side and did not adequately cover all the many economic challenges that a project like this entails.

Prior to living in Sisters, I lived in Sedona, Arizona, when their three-year-old 5,000 seat new outdoor amphitheater went bankrupt in 2003. Their amphitheater was set amid the majestic red rocks and was the first stage of a "cultural park" concept. It was operated as a nonprofit and managed by a private citizens' board of directors.

Sedona is a high desert tourist town of 10,000 people, located on a major alternative traffic route to the Grand Canyon, which is extremely well-traveled. Like Sisters, outdoor activities abound and are a major draw. Sedona also has a thriving and well-established arts community.

Why did it fail? Why is this beautiful structure, now wildly overgrown by shrubs and grass - an eyesore to the community - not used at all 10 years later?

There was not a realistic plan for its financial sustainability. A journalist wrote "there was no economic engine, and the park had to rely on constant fundraising and philanthropy for revenue." A cost/revenue analysis, if ever done, apparently did not identify the many financial pitfalls that lay ahead.

The operational plan, designed to accommodate the lighting, noise, and traffic concerns of the neighbors living adjacent to the structure, was difficult to enforce. Although a concert may end at 10 p.m., people, cars, and motorcycles and their accompanying noise, may linger much longer.

Non-compete clauses written into performers' contracts prevented booking performers already booked in Phoenix or Flagstaff. Many top-name performers would not work in such a small venue as Sedona. There is also the risk that, when the performers and others take their cut of the revenue, there may be little or nothing left for the venue.

Many locals opined that the board of directors had great difficulty reaching agreement and making the hard decisions on important issues.

As "the process" moves forward, I would expect the Sisters City Council to pay close attention to see if some of the same issues are also relevant to our community. I would like to hear a balanced presentation of the potential risks involved and how they might be successfully addressed.

Linda Wolff

•••

To the Editor:

In the January 29 Nugget, the ODOT area manager was quoted:

"The city and community has been very clear that they prefer, desire, the roundabout."

I haven't met anyone who thinks a roundabout is a good idea. I have no idea where he got the idea that the community wants a roundabout. We now have a signal at the intersection of Barclay and Highway 20. We should turn it on now so we can see how that option works. If it's a failure then the roundabout should be reconsidered.

Bruce Berryhill

•••

To the Editor:

How is a semi truck supposed to use a roundabout? Also, wouldn't it be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to have a signal light?

Calliope Fleming

•••

To the Editor:

I do have to admire the Sisters Community for its spirited debate and defense of controversial subjects but the desire for a roundabout at Barclay Drive and Highway 20 seems very short-sighted.

In my opinion it would be more dangerous than a traffic signal. Consider. You are headed west from downtown to the Ray's shopping complex, which presently is a simple left-hand turn from a relatively safe center median.

If a roundabout were in place you would have three, that is three, merging traffic situations confronting you. First, will the in-coming, eastbound traffic continue into downtown Sisters or will it want to access Barclay Drive to the north? Secondly, will the southbound Barclay Drive traffic want to go west with a simple right turn or will it want to access South Barclay Drive or will it want to head east into downtown Sisters? Thirdly, you will need to carefully merge with the in-coming eastbound traffic to finally gain access to South Barclay Drive.

All three of these decisions are dependent upon your fellow motorists signaling their intentions at each merge point and if you have driven the roundabouts in Bend you know how that turns out. True, any potential accidents at these merge points may be less catastrophic than past accidents at that location, but I believe that they will be more numerous.

Now the issue of cost. I have not seen mention of the total cost of the "temporary" traffic signal being installed at this intersection and which parties are paying for it, but it has to be in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps The Nugget can delineate the breakdown of costs more clearly if it hasn't already.

Why does this installation need to be temporary? Is it going to be so dangerous that it would need to be replaced in the future? If so, why is it being installed in the first place? What will the cost be of a "more permanent" traffic signal? Whatever it is it will likely be a lot less than a roundabout!

I think that some constituents and city officials are suffering from roundabout-envy. After all, Bend has dozens and Redmond has at least one. Why can't Sisters have one? To heck with the costs and short-sighted thinking!

Del Heller

•••

To the Editor:

I admit that I know very few of the "facts" surrounding the City's decision to remove concrete improvements from the Marlow commercial property in Sisters. But why take the time to research facts when inflammatory opinions are so much more fun? I have not been enlightened by either the City or Mr. Marlow about the situation. However, my experience in changing the course of the development code for the industrial park a few years ago makes me think I have something to add-despite its speculative nature. Consider this possible scenario:

1. The "mistake" of property ownership was not one-sided. At one time, both parties believed the strip of land was city-owned.

2. Following discovery of an ownership error the pleasantly surprised property owner names a price of $$$$ to correct the outlandish mistake made by obviously incompetent, should-be-fired-immediately public

officials.

3. The City Development Code requires that when properties are developed the landowner must provide parking and pedestrian improvements compliant with code provisions.

4. The $s already spent on the improvements is now irrelevant and I learned the hard way (several times actually) that it is often a mistake to throw good money after bad. So the City then gets to decide whether to pay $$$$ now-which is not in the budget, or remove the improvements for much less than $ and allow the property owner to pay for the required public improvements when that property is developed at some point in the future.

5. Although I have had more than my share of frustrations with City Hall (always their fault of course), the scenario above -or something similar to it - is plausible and almost makes me want to give the City the benefit of the doubt prior to bashing them in the paper. In fact, I think I've convinced myself that the City may even deserve a letter of appreciation for saving taxpayers the difference between $$$$ and $.

Kris Calvin

•••

To the Editor:

Re: Sidewalk removal.

The City has known about this latest goof for quite some time and has failed to resolve this matter and waited for a court order to solve this matter for them. All attempts to solve this matter out of court in an amicable and equitable manner have been initiated by the property owner. The judge was "perplexed" by this whole matter as to why the City never tried to settle this matter out of court during the previous three years before the trial. The judge's ruling gave the City options and 60 days to take action. The City waited until the end of the 60 days and chose to remove the sidewalk, paving and associated improvements.

When the City installed the sewer system, in 1999 and 2000, another goof occurred. This goof could also have been avoided. The City installed an 18-inch diameter sewer line on the same piece of property mentioned above and goofed when they failed to, once again, verify the property lines and right-of-way lines along the route of the proposed sewer alignment.

The really surprising thing is that the Deschutes County Surveyor, the keeper of all survey records in Deschutes County, could not find any records that indicate or confirm or document the existence of Main Avenue between N. Cedar and N. Locust. This means that the City goofed again and never filed a proper survey plat for the location and dedication of the right-of-way for a street between N. Cedar and N. Locust.

In my opinion, the honorable and professionally competent thing for the City to do when they first learned about this problem would have been to start some type of condemnation property acquisition process intended to legally acquire title to this property for a proper street right-of-way. Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a full-time professional staff trained in this process and could have provided valuable assistance to the City in solving this

problem.

Dave and Sandy Marlow





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