and DAVE FROHNMAYER
and DAVE FROHNMAYER
We have watched with dismay as the Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC) has pursued its Cherry Creek Project on Spring Street. That ill-conceived project threatens the two-decade old legacy of our parents and the Donahue family in donating a beautiful park to the city of Medford.
The Medford Land Development Code requires such projects to be "compatible" with their surroundings. The petitions of hundreds of neighbors have provided ample evidence that the HAJC project is not.
We grew up on Spring Street, attended Medford schools and still retain friendships with many neighbors. Other than small, posted signs around the project boundary, we learned that the first notice most neighbors received of HAJC's intentions was when its agents began to dump truckloads of fill dirt on the site without proper permits.
HAJC's actions since that time have been marked with the same combination of arrogance and secrecy.
HAJC has provided no answers to how Lone Pine School and the school district will handle a sudden influx of new pupils. It never has explained why it chose a semi-rural setting to house the most dense population for at least a mile in any direction. It has given no strategy to provide safe transit down Spring Street (a major thoroughfare with no sidewalks) for the pedestrian traffic it will generate.
It places the project the best part of a mile from any public transport for hundreds of inhabitants. Because it has no garages, the project will likely cause dwellers and their guests to use the adjacent park instead.
In this sadly continuing case study of how a public agency should not do the public's business, to our knowledge HAJC has not offered to meet with neighbors to allay their concerns or plan collaboratively. It has refused to produce records explaining how it used federal stimulus funds that were designed to restore dilapidated properties for the purchase of bare land instead.
Medford City Council will hear the Cherry Creek project appeal on Friday, Aug. 5.
Concerned citizens will provide further testimony about how HAJC failed to meet its burden of proving that Cherry Creek is "compatible." The dictionary tells us that compatible means something in "harmony" that "works well."
We all know that a forced marriage is not a compatible one. And Medford's code requires the "best utilization of land in order to preserve the public safety and welfare "… and use of lands in harmony with the character of the neighborhood." (Section 10.285)
There is an alternative solution. The HAJC could withdraw its application and trade this property with the city or another government entity that has a more strategic and appropriate dense-housing location.
The Cherry Creek site then could be land-banked or immediately added to the existing, adjacent Donahue-Frohnmayer Park. Complex.
A solution is achievable with good will. City Council should grant this well-founded appeal and require the community dialogue that HAJC so far has seemed able to evade.
Medford City Council profusely thanked our parents 22 years ago for their generosity in making the serene beauty of this land available for all citizens to enjoy as a park.
They would be heartsick to hear that a successor City Council would allow an iron-fenced, densely packed, 15-building institutional complex literally yards from the beautiful landscape that they treasured for all citizens.
Mira Frohnmayer is a professor of voice, emeritus, from Pacific Lutheran University. Dave Frohnmayer, her brother, is former Oregon Attorney General and president emeritus of the University of Oregon. Both are Medford natives who currently reside in Eugene.