YOUR IDEAS FOR BUILDING A BETTER BETHEL!
Active Bethel Citizens Civic Engagement Committee – January 29, 2020 and Active Bethel Citizens General Meeting – April 25, 2020
Officials in attendance at the General Meeting were: State Senator James Manning; State Representative Julie Fahey; Mayor Lucy Vinis; Lane County Commissioner Par Farr; City Councilor Ward 6 Greg Evans; City Councilor Ward 7 Claire Syrett; City Councilor Ward 8 Chris Pryor and Bethel School Board Member Debi Farr.
There has not been any overall neighborhood planning done for the Bethel area in almost 50 years – since 1982. This lack of planning is evident in the inadequacy of local amenities (theaters, restaurants), recreation facilities, and critical infrastructure such as bike paths and sidewalks. The ABC Executive Board knows that there are opportunities to make Bethel better – supporting the creation of new jobs and educational opportunities, building better transportation connections, easing the path for redevelopment in key areas, and strengthening business connections. With YOUR help and ideas, the ABC Board and our elected officials are willing to work to make Bethel Better. Our first step is to gather as many email addresses as we can. We’ve got big plans, and you should be the first to know! Sign up for our email list to be sure you’re aware of the latest events, volunteer opportunities, and efforts taking place in the Bethel neighborhood! To sign up for our email newsletters, just click on our website https://activebethelcitizens.org/, and you will see Get Active Bethel Citizens Emails.
The April 25 General Meeting was recorded. For a full report, including the responses by the officials in attendance, please go to the ABC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/activebethelcitizens/. The following is a summary of YOUR ideas:
INFRASTRUCTURE/PUBLIC SAFETY: Bike paths – More bus stops – Bus routes and lack of transportation. Anyone west of Echo Hollow will need to take 2 busses to get to downtown. Jacobs Drive bus service is not as good as it used to be, and a lot of seniors in her neighborhood can’t walk as far as they used to – Bike lanes on Hwy 99 and Greenhill Rd – Safety – lighting, striping, reflector dots on the Beltline, sidewalks, street lights, crosswalks, bike lanes – Stop vandalism, drugs, criminal activity – Is anyone asking people using the system what they need for transportation? Especially many of these folks need public transportation for work… What is the process?
RECREATION: Community center- Recreational development – Petersen Barn expansion, etc. – Additional park space – Trail and natural area development! – Access to Dragonfly Bend Park and Meadowlark Prairie from North by foot – Trail towards Fern Ridge Reservoir
ENVIRONMENT: Focus on environmental concerns – air quality – Industrial regulation and policies for air/soul/water pollution – improving air quality for residents – Air toxics and pollution control – emission monitoring, emission reduction, public education, alerts and restrictions – It’s possible the smell isn’t coming from the Baxter plant – it is coming from burning trash. It’s a poor community and a lot of people don’t have garbage service.
AMENITIES: Broadband internet improvement – Commercial development – theater complex, coffee, restaurant, shopping – Commercial amenity development on Hwy 99 – movie theater, restaurants, retail
HOMELESS: The homeless problem has gotten much worse, including garbage pickers making a mess – Additional funding resources from the rest of the city to shoulder responsibility of majority of homeless services – Homelessness is a symptom of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and there is a need for financial literacy – Expressed concern about the homeless. Some are just out of work and we should have a place where they can just be, where they could put their stuff and get better mental health support. Then some of the problems would disappear.
HIGHWAY 99: The curbed medians effectively cut off 50% of the customers to any one of the businesses and should be removed – We need to continue an aggressive effort to improve Highway 99 beyond the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials as Highway 99 is the pathway from the airport into Eugene; businesses need to be encouraged to clean-up and beautify.
DIVERSITY/INCLUSIVENESS: We are one of the most diverse communities and need to find ways to leverage that and find a way to feel proud about that.
PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT: We need to apply to city committees to represent Bethel – ABC Board can advocate for applicants – It is possible and appropriate to take the extra step to reach out to council members
NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING PROCESS – MOVING FORWARD: Little progress has taken place since the Building a Better Bethel report in 2014, and the Neighborhood Planning process will take years. The challenge will be to build and then maintain momentum; there need to be some smaller, incremental improvements that can be made so that people see progress as we work through the longer process – River Road/Santa Clara have been involved for fifteen years and we should connect with them to hear how the process worked over the long-haul – The Bethel School District is a huge asset and we need to continue to build on that relationship. – The issues that have been brought up (environment, safe routes to school, Highway 99 corridor enhancement which includes sidewalks) are all connected to ongoing city council strategies and that Bethel needs to tie our issues to the city strategies.
– Anne Fifield, Eugene’s Economic Strategies Manager, presented a Bethel Redevelopment Plan to the City Council on April 22 based on the almost identical concerns provided by the ABC Civic Engagement Team (it is posted on the ABC Facebook page). After the presentation, the motion was made (and passed 7-1) to:
Direct the City Manager to develop a comprehensive planning implementation and funding strategy to achieve community and economic prosperity in Bethel. The first two strategies shall include:
1) Continued neighborhood engagement and capacity building and 2) A neighborhood planning process.