Dissension Over Art Permeates FURA Meeting
A profusion of accusations were tossed about at Wednesday evening’s Florence Urban Renewal Agency that began with a question from Mayor Joe Henry regarding the addition of an agenda item on the evening’s meeting schedule. Item number 6 in the amended meeting schedule was, according to FURA chairperson Joshua Greene intended to open a discussion that he says had been suppressed in several other avenues including city council meetings and work sessions. The issue surrounds a $20,000 portion of public art funding that Greene believes should be reinstated into the Public Arts Committee funding to cover current and additional art projects currently planned. Greene explained the addition of the agenda item and Mayor Henry rebutted stating the request should have come from the Public Arts Committee. Green admitted that it had not. Henry then made a motion to have the item removed it was seconded and a vote was taken with a 5-4 approval of the removal of the item.
This did not end the discussion. After a presentation from PAC chairman Harlan Springer, Mayor Henry accused Springer of going on television with KVAL news and claiming that the city had defunded public art in Florence. A claim which Springer denied. Henry said he believed that Springer was out of line.
“I’m not sure that you were within our guidelines to actually go and speak on behalf of the Public Arts Committee without their approval and without stating that it is your own opinion.”
Mayor Henry said that he believed that it was a bad reflection on the city for situations like this to be aired in the general public. He also stated that he believes that FURA has spent too much time discussing the issue of public art and that they needed to refocus on other items.
Greene said he believed that much of the ado had to do with the controversy over the mural and the public upheaval resulting from their choice. And the city council changing its set of priorities rather than addressing the issue of funding head on with a vote. Greene also said that nothing has changed with the mission of the PAC and they were following the wishes of the previous council that had allocated 250,000 dollars for public art. And now that the committee is moving forward there is no opportunity.
“There is no funding, there is no opportunity to hire a grant writer, which was about funding and the few money that was allocated originally, the 125 a year, has been stripped away.”
After a few more brief exchanges, agency member Ron Caputo addressed FURA and asked if they could thank PAC chair Springer for his presentation and asked that the Mayor and FURA chairperson continue their argument in another venue.
Local Loggers Join Rally
The Senate Republicans have still not returned to the State Capital over objections to the HB 2020 Cap and Trade bill. Senate democrats say the bill is dead with only 4 days left in the legislative session. One of the big issues in the bill is the hike in fuel prices that will hurt the trucking industry according to opponents of the bill. Another industry that could potentially suffer is the logging industry. Jennifer King Wagoneer with R&R King logging was in Salem yesterday to show opposition to the bill that she says will have devastating consequences for logging not just through rising fuel costs.
“Kinds of equipment that can be used and certain dates that they’ve put into place as far as can’t use equipment that was manufactured prior to a particular date.”
The measures are intended to help curb greenhouse gases, but King-Wagonner says investing in logging equipment is a long term investment and replacing equipment that still has usuable life is a cost that could kill a business. King-Wagonner said the show of support was enormous at the capital and she and her youngest daughter were proud to be a part of the rally.
City Has Easy ADU Process
The housing wave of the future for Oregon could be the ADU movement that was regulated by the state last July first. Accessory Dwelling Units are how the Florence City Council believes that the housing crunch can be eased. Wendy Farley-Campbell with the planning department says the move to support ADU’s was in the works long before the state mandated it. And according to Farley-Campbell ADU’s are not difficult to ascertain.
“We’ve provided a very easy process for which to get and Accessory Dwelling Unit, it’s just an over the counter process.”
She says the first application has no cost associated with it and can be done without having to notify neighbors or go through the regular approval process. The first charges will come when the city has to create a site plan for the property. Those prices, while moderate, will show a slight jump on July 1st. The city will waive system development charges for hooking up to water and sewer provided there is an existing dwelling on the property that has services. Farley-Campbell discusses ADU’s in length on the July edition of Our Town.