Eugene Community Development

Article written by: Suzanne Penegor of Eugene

Mike Sullivan, Community Development Division Manager, Eugene
W. Broadway Proj. (20-134) Series

Two days after the election here in Lane County, Mike Sullivan of the Eugene Planning Department, spoke to the Lane Co. Rubicon Society about the ballot measure that failed that would have renovated the West Broadway area. Sullivan discussed the history of urban renewal projects in downtown Eugene and said that urban renewal usually comes in when land values fall dramatically. He said Eugene loves planning and processes.

Sullivan talked of Eugene’s planning philosophy of having “Great Streets” and had a humorous photo of the water in the old Sears building and talked of “watershed restoration.” He said the trend both nationally and internationally is a return of folks to downtown areas to live. He noted how many housing units have recently been built in downtown Eugene to accomodate various income levels. He noted that some were privately funded and others have been publicly funded.

Sullivan said that the LTD transit hub brings in 10,000 folks a day to downtown Eugene and the new Eugene Library also brings people to the downtown area. He noted that the Eugene Library was a $27 million dollar public investment that used up all the urban renewal funding, and this is why voters were asked for $40 million in spending for the W. Broadway renovation plan.

Rubicon members asked if the city is currently discussing the problem of public safety in downtown Eugene and how that impacts whether folks will go downtown. Sullivan said that Eugene is “tolerant” and that it doesn’t appear that much is going to change to improve public safety downtown in terms of the homeless situation and drug dealing and other problems that shoppers don’t have to deal with at privately owned shopping malls.

One Rubicon member asked how long the JC Penney building has been vacant in downtown Eugene and Sullivan replied 5 years.

Another Rubicon member suggested that city government get out of the way so that private enterprise can restore the downtown area.

One Rubicon member noted that the city lost a lot of its road funds when environmental laws reduced dramatically the timber revenues that used to provide for that funding.

Another Rubicon member asked why just the W. Broadway area was in the renovation plan when other areas of downtown Eugene needed it more than that area.

Sullivan said the funding for the ballot measure–had it passed–would have come from property taxes in that district.

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To listen to the presentation about community development and other presentations given to the Rubicon Society please click on the link provided:

Community Development