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Eugene Weekly : Views : 09.01.05

Community Causeway

The heart of Eugene at the Eugene Celebration

BY CINDY INGRAHM

Did you know that there are 1,302 registered 501(c)(3)'s in Lane County? This designation is given to nonprofit organizations by the federal government as a tax ID number, which allows donors to receive a tax deduction for their gifts. What exactly is a nonprofit? The bottom line: Profits in these organizations are not distributed to their share holders. They function solely to serve the public good, and meet the needs of the community that governmental programs cannot. And thank goodness for that!

There are an incredible number of ways to serve the public good. For many of us, we first think of nonprofits as all social service agencies that provide direct care to the needy, such as feeding the hungry, finding shelter for homeless youth, or providing independent living skills training for clients with developmental disabilities. These social services meet an incredible need, they are not alone in serving the needs of our community.

Other busy Eugene programs come from sectors such as health, education and training, arts and culture, housing and community development, international assistance, religious congregations, civic participation and advocacy, infrastructure organizations, and foundations. It's through the collection and collaboration of all of these specialized services that we as a civilized society meet the needs of our community. One organization cannot do it on its own.

"Nonprofit variety is the spice of life," says Renee Irvin, director of the Not-for-Profit Management Certificate Program at the UO. "Nonprofits in Lane County are doing all sorts of different things, from healing the sick to producing artistic works of wonder and beauty. We love our nonprofits!"

On Oct. 1-2, the 2005 Eugene Celebration will be embracing the Community Causeway and the caring community that it represents like never before. This year the associations, nonprofit organizations, political candidates, clubs and school programs that make up this special component of the celebration will be smack dab in the middle of the festivities surrounding the Saturday Market Park Blocks.

"The Community Causeway is an essential component of the Eugene Celebration," says Barry Blanton, Board Chair, Downtown Events Management, Inc. (DEMI), producers of the annual Eugene Celebration. "The organizations that participate in the Community Causeway are representative of the caring community we choose to live in – a place definitely worth celebrating."

The Community Causeway is an outstanding opportunity for community organizations to come out and give Eugene a chance to get to know them, build relationships with other organizations with congruent missions, and gather citizen support. And this is a personal invitation to all Lane County community organizations, from small clubs to large governmental programs to come to the heart of the party!

Celebration goers, this is a special invitation for you too. I encourage, no, actually I challenge you to get involved and make it a point to explore the Community Causeway. Visit the many colorful booths sponsored by our local nonprofits and community associations. Appreciate them for the often thankless job of serving the public good.

Sign-up for mailing lists and stay educated about what's being done and how you can help, make a donation of goods, services or cash, or let your favorite organization know that you care enough to give the gift of time. Volunteer!

Elizabeth McNeil, director of the United Way Volunteer Center, an amazing centralized resource for volunteers and volunteer coordinators in Lane County, says "Giving your time to the community is more than just volunteering. It is a form of citizen engagement where people can choose public issues that are of greatest concern to them and make connections with others who share the same interest. In return, this process creates a shared community vision where people can thrive and act with a sense of accountability."

Applications for participation in this year's Community Causeway are online at www.eugenecelebration.comFor more information contact Ingrahm at: awecindy@efn.org


Cindy Ingrahm is coordinator of this year's Community Causeway at the Eugene Celebration. She is the co-founder of two local organizations, and volunteer/staff at many. She is working on her graduate level certificate in not for profit management at the UO, and her masters in public administration.

 

 

A Good Idea

Locating the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital on Eugene's Field of Dreams

By Steven A. Sylwester

There are good ideas and there are bad ideas. A less than five-minute pondering of the following ESRI and FEMA Hazard Information and Awareness Web site that graphically details the flood hazard areas (100-year flood and 500-year flood) in Eugene should effectively rule out any continuing consideration of the EWEB site and the Lane County Fairgrounds site for the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center.

http://mapserver2.esri.com/cgi-bin/hazard.adol?s=0&c=-123.085556%2C44.052222&d=0&cd=z&p=2&x=69&y=11

The facts are these:

• McKenzie-Willamette in Springfield occupies approximately 15 acres, an area including uses associated with the hospital.

• Sacred Heart Medical Center on Hilyard Street in Eugene occupies approximately 12 acres, a four-block area including uses associated with the hospital.

• Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital was originally looking for a 35-acre site on which to build a new 114-bed hospital in Eugene.

Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital recently offered EWEB $24.8 million to purchase 22.47 acres along the Willamette River just east of the Ferry Street Bridge where the EWEB office building is now located. This site is located in a flood hazard area.

• Local news reports describe interest in locating the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette hospital on the 55 acres that are now occupied by the Lane County Fairgrounds. This site is located in a flood hazard area.

• Eugene's own Field of Dreams, the venerable Civic Stadium, occupies a 17-acre tract on South Willamette between E. 20th Avenue and what would be E 22nd Avenue. This site is not located in a flood hazard area.

 

THE MEASURE OF THINGS: Eugene has lost its way in its thinking about hospitals. Consider two major hospital construction projects currently underway in Los Angeles: the UCLA Santa Monica Replacement Hospital and the UCLA Westwood Replacement Hospital. Examination of these two projects can provide much needed perspective for any proposals from Triad regarding a new McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Eugene.

UCLA Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center is located on 3.24 acres at 1225 15th St, Santa Monica, Calif. Prior to the Northridge earthquake, the hospital had 365 beds in a 488,200 square foot facility, and employed 1,165 people.

From the UCLA Santa Monica Replacement Hospital Web site:

The new hospital was designed by prominent New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, who is dean of the Yale School of Architecture, in conjunction with executive architects Anshen + Allen Los Angeles.

The unique, neighborhood-friendly design features a Northern Italian architectural style similar to original buildings on the UCLA campus. The design has been lightened and modified to be compatible with the hospital's community setting. More than 25 percent of the new medical campus will be devoted to green and open spaces.

Key components of the replacement project will include: 1) the Orthopaedic Hospital facility on 15th Street and Wilshire Boulevard, featuring an outpatient clinic, the UCLA Department of Orthopaedics' administrative and faculty offices, other administrative offices, a library and a museum; 2) a new, 13,000-square-foot Emergency Center on 15th Street; 3) a new Labor & Delivery Unit and 16-bassinet Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; 4) an expanded Outpatient Treatment Center to provide greater capacity for surgeries and procedures that do not require overnight hospitalization; 5) a new Critical Care Unit; and 6) a new cafeteria containing both indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Almost 90 percent of inpatient beds in the new hospital will be in private rooms. Fifty-two of the 266 total beds will be designated for inpatient orthopaedic care.

http://www.ucmt.org/santamonica/html/about/introduction.shtml

http://www.ucmt.org/santamonica/html/about/future.shtml

 

The UCLA Westwood Replacement Hospital, designed by world-famous architect I.M. Pei, will have 525 beds in a building whose footprint covers just four acres.

From the UCLA Westwood Replacement Hospital Web site:

Designed to Help Healing: Renowned Architect I.M. Pei Overcomes Project's Restraints and Creates an Uplifting Environment for UCLA Hospital

By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic

Light, Nature, the scale of the human body-the modernists believed these elements could be used to cure many of the world's social ills. Few architects have clung to that faith more than I.M. Pei, the octogenarian who has translated that formula into myriad highly refined architectural landmarks.

At 86, Pei is approaching the twilight of a long and successful career that includes the redesign of Paris' Louvre, Boston's Hancock Tower, the East Wing of Washington's National Gallery— all icons in their respective cities. So it came as a surprise a year ago that Pei had decided to take on UCLA's $600 million new hospital, the largest component in a $1.3-billion medical complex that will replace the existing facility, which was damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Hospitals are notoriously cursed commissions for architects; Complex organizational requirements and high cost of increasingly sophisticated technological hardware mean that architecture inevitably becomes a secondary concern.

Yet Pei's design, unveiled Jan. 19, shows us how even the most fundamental architectural tools-when skillfully manipulated-can do much to foster a humane environment even under extreme constraints. This is not one of Pei's greatest works, but given the project's constraints, the project is a masterful piece of light, nature, and scale-one where architecture can function as an integral tool in the healing of the human psyche. In that sense, it is a critical step toward a more enlightened understanding of health care.

http://www.ucmt.org/westwood/html/about/press_02.shtml

http://www.ucmt.org/westwood/html/about/introduction.shtml

http://www.ucmt.org/westwood/html/about/index.shtml

http://www.ucmt.org/westwood/html/about/building_overview.shtml

http://www.today.ucla.edu/2002/020312hospital.html

 

BACK HOME: HERE & NOW

A document titled "June 2003 Eugene Modernism 1935-65: Education" describes the history of Civic Stadium as follows:

In 1937, as turf installation at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field made the field unusable, Eugene High and University High teams faced the possibility of canceling all home games. As the district was experiencing financial difficulties, the community rallied behind a property tax to purchase a 17-acre tract on South Willamette between 20th and 22nd Streets. Construction of the field and grandstand was a cooperative project among School District No. 4, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The Eugene High School student body donated funds to purchase and install lights at the new Civic Stadium for evening games.

 

A July 25, 2002, Eugene Weekly article by Aria Seligmann titled "Playing Ball: Fans rally around the Ems, no matter what" described the relationship between Eugene School District 4J and the Eugene Emeralds baseball team regarding Civic Stadium as follows:

The Ems pump a lot of money into the community; Beban says it's about a million. On hotel rooms alone they spend $135,000 per season and each player spends his money in the community. In addition to the players, the Ems employ 140 people. Money that goes to EWEB is significant. And, of course, the 4-J School District owns the stadium. It gets $60,000 in rent for the 38 days the Ems play there.

About five years ago, the lease agreement changed, and now the Ems are responsible for the entire upkeep of the 65-year-old stadium. That's all of the ground maintenance, repairs and improvements. With city codes being what they are, that gets expensive. Assistant General Manager Brian Rogers says during February's windstorm, the outfield wall collapsed, and replacing it to city code cost the Ems several thousand. All told, the Ems paid $99,600 for stadium improvements between 1997 and 2001. So far this year, they've spent $20,000.

The Ems have had discussions with other cities about moving to potential new stadiums, but nothing has ever materialized, say Beban and Rogers. Still, they would consider having those conversations in the future. About 15 years ago, Beban talked to then Springfield mayor Bill Morrisette about moving there, but the conversation didn't go any further. Now, with talk of a new sports complex going up near Gateway, another conversation with Springfield seems likely.

But both Rogers and Beban say the ambience of an older stadium is what keeps people coming back; it's what the ballplayers love and it's what garnered Civic Stadium a place in Baseball America's Top 10 stadiums in America. "If you have an older ballpark," the magazine said, "this is how you want to run it."

That means amenities and fan-friendliness, says Beban. "If you're a fan, you'll come no matter what, but if you're a non-fan, you're not going to come if the bathrooms aren't clean.

"We're not interested in leaving Eugene and this stadium is a classic," Beban continues. "It's a treasure. Everyone who comes out is very proud of that and recognizes that."

But he's also quick to add, "I would talk to Springfield about their complex. I wouldn't consider it leaving Eugene. I consider it all one thing. If the New York Giants and Jets can play in New Jersey, I don't think it's a big deal. This is a community and I have a lot of fans from Springfield."

Rogers is more direct. "This stadium is old. There's a shortage of bathrooms, the field is uneven and parking is a concern. We want more reserved seats. If something presented itself from Springfield, we'd go for it."

Civic Stadium only has 1,100 box seats and 900 sell each year to season ticket holders. Rogers says that's not enough. But then he looks out over the field, where workers are hosing down the diamond's dust. "But we don't want to lose the ambience we have here," he says. "Nothing's currently in the works and we like what we have, but there's limitations to everything." Then his eyes focus on the hills beyond the outfield. "This stadium is so much better than others," he says. "Sometimes the grass is not greener; we work our tails off to keep everything afloat."

Civic Stadium at 20th and Willamette has been home to the Emeralds since 1969. It was built in 1938 as a WPA project. Spectators have seen high school football, soccer, even rodeo there. The land was purchased with a $6,000 city bond and $12,000 raised by the Eugene School District 4J and area communities. It has been owned by the school district ever since.

Semi-professional baseball came to Civic Stadium in the 1940s. During the '40s and '50s, the Cascade League's Giustina Reds and Eugene Caseys played ball there. Eventually, the school district became disenchanted with teams like the Reds and the team moved to a new facility — Bethel Park on Roosevelt Boulevard. That site also housed the Eugene Larks and the Emeralds.

In the 1950s, the Eugene Caseys, also civic leaguers, set up shop at Civic. But they, too, soon left, leaving Bethel Park the place to see ball.

Ems historian Chris Metz writes, "But baseball would eventually return to Civic in 1969 as the Ems secured a berth in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, and thusly outgrew the smaller confines of Bethel Park. Civic wasn't the club's first choice to house the new Class AAA version of the Emeralds, but efforts to build a new facility were shot down as potential sites couldn't be obtained. With the Class AAA berth and a new working agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies in the balance, the Eugene School Board gave its OK to a lease negotiated with the Ems."

 

 

The clock is ticking. As sad as it is to contemplate such a thing, Civic Stadium is living on borrowed time, and no one will save it when the Emeralds eventually (and inevitably) move their game to a more lucrative ballpark. It is a dream beyond all reasonableness to even imagine that Eugene School District 4J will spend the funds to upkeep Civic Stadium for South Eugene High School baseball; it just will not happen — no way.

So, if the future is now, then what? How should we as a community best look upon the resource of 17 acres that we all know and love as Civic Stadium?

Some Eugene city councilors in private conversation covet Civic Stadium for low-income housing. Exactly what that means is unknown. But the prospect of creating Eugene's own public housing ghetto on the hallowed ground of Civic Stadium is more than too scary to contemplate, because such good deeds are invariably punished severely by just those who were to be blessed. Why should it be different in Eugene than it was in St. Louis or elsewhere where whole public housing developments had to be razed after just a few sorry years of existence? The answer is that it will not be different here.

Low-income housing at the Civic Stadium site will predictably migrate crime onto College Hill and into the foothills of south Eugene's ridgeline. Furthermore, the friendliness of Amazon Park would likely be compromised. Ideally, low-income housing should be located here, there, and everywhere in a community. As it is, the area between Alder Street and Olive Street between 11th Avenue and 19th Avenue is largely low-income rental housing for college and university students.

It is worth noting that the UO did away with a massive amount of low-income housing when it finally tore down its derelict but wonderful Amazon Married Student Housing Complex and replaced it with the upscale Spencer View Married Student Housing Complex on Patterson Street between South Eugene High School and Roosevelt Middle School. The rent went way up in the transition, and the UO became unaffordable anymore for many of Amazon Housing's former residents.

The sad and sorry truth of the matter is this: low-income housing is only affordable as a consequence of either cheap and junky new buildings or dilapidated and derelict old buildings being located on either undeveloped land or underdeveloped land whose valuation is diminished because of the neighborhood's low-income status. It is a vicious downward-spiraling cycle that should never be purposely started by any community in any of its neighborhoods. As a consequence of time and inevitability, neighborhoods naturally decline into old age and some also into decay, and low-income housing just finds itself here, there, and everywhere in the process.

So what should be done with Civic Stadium, despite the covert planning of some of Eugene's city councilors? Plainly, those wonderfully situated 17 acres now occupied by Civic Stadium should become the location for the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Eugene. This is not just a good idea—it is a historic opportunity to revitalize downtown Eugene by extending its real presence southward in a well-connected economic corridor that will mutually benefit both professional offices and commercial businesses alike, and to also bless Eugene School District 4J with a sum of money enough to completely change the future of public education in our community.

Last things first: the potential good fortune in this good idea for Eugene School District 4J cannot be overstated. If Triad was willing to pay EWEB $24.8 million for 22.47 acres in a flood hazard area with horrible road access problems, then paying Eugene School District 4J $21 million for 17 acres — a less than 12 percent premium on their offered per acre rate — in a superior prime location with no flood hazard problems and superb road access seems like a bargain Triad could not pass up. The hospital market coup that Triad would garner in such a deal is stunning to contemplate, and the dollars and cents of it are enormous! If the convenience of being closer makes a difference in hospital selection by the consumer, then the entire population of south Eugene and half of the population of west Eugene would immediately switch their allegiance from PeaceHealth/ Sacred Heart to Triad/McKenzie-Willamette without a second thought.

At the following Web site, Sacred Heart Hospital on Hilyard Street in Eugene is the small tan rectangle located just below the "th" in the wording "E 11th Ave." and the red star in the center of the map is Civic Stadium (proposed Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital):

But last things first: what would $21 million buy for Eugene School District 4J? If all of the money was placed with an excellent money manager, a 7 percent draw could be made every year and the principal amount would likely grow over time. A 7 percent yearly draw on a $21 million investment amounts to $1.47 million, which is a lot of money year after year into perpetuity (and, remember, if the principal grows, the 7 percent yearly draw also grows). What should be done with the money? The entire sum and its yearly draw should be dedicated to a constant never-ending upgrade cycle that would keep all of Eugene's public schools fully and optimally equipped with computer technology from kindergarten through high school. Every public school district in America dreams of this opportunity, and it is here and now ours to not mess up.

 

The 7 percent draw takes into account both the good years and the bad years. Consider:

http://www.benefitnews.com/detail.cfm?id=6657

 

Think of it this way: What would your grandparents and great-grandparents do? In truth, their $18,000 investment almost 70 years ago is the heart and soul and plain reality of the maybe $21 million that Triad would pay Eugene School District 4J for the 17 acres that we know as Civic Stadium. Back in 1937, the high schools needed a playing field. That is no longer the case. But now, the high schools and middle schools and elementary schools all need computers, and they will need new ones every four or five years until the end of time. How can we afford to do the right thing by keeping the computer technology in Eugene's public schools current? Right now, we simply cannot afford to do the right thing. In general, the state of computer technology in Eugene's public schools is woefully and shamefully inadequate — and that is when it exists at all.

The blessed windfall for Eugene School District 4J if Triad purchases Civic Stadium should not be squandered. If a permanent solution presents itself to a never-ending problem that is no less than a defining problem for what is possible in education today, then by all means we should take it and never look back! That is what we have here.

But now first things first: how does this good idea benefit downtown Eugene?

If a new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital was built on the Civic Stadium site in Eugene and that was all, that would be a lot—and plenty enough for many people. But so much more is possible. The greatest opportunity is this: the whole of downtown Eugene could be connected to the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital by installing an electric streetcar line that would loop on Oak Street and Pearl Street between E. 5th Avenue and what would be E. 20th Avenue. Riding the electric streetcars could be free if Eugene followed the successful model of downtown Portland, Oregon, where the electric streetcars provide free public transportation while supporting enviable business vitality.

 

Portland City Center & Fareless Square:

http://www.trimet.org/fares/fareless.htm

 

The tan area just below the red star in the center of the map is Civic Stadium:

Another view: The tan area just below the red star in the center of the map is Civic Stadium (proposed new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital) and the reddish rectangle with the "St" of the wording "Hilyard St" in its middle is Sacred Heart Hospital:

 

Over time, the consequence of such a bold venture would be the creation of a thriving economic corridor that would be uninterrupted from 5th Avenue to 29th Avenue along Willamette Street — and at the very heart of that corridor would be Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in the 2100 block of Willamette Street. As it is, many assorted medical offices already exist in this corridor in close proximity to where the new hospital would be. To name a few: Lane Memorial Blood Bank, Allergy & Asthma Center PC, Buck Allergy & Asthma Clinic, Allergy and Asthma Associates, Oregon Eye Associates, Southtowne Family Medicine, and Oak Street Medical PC. But, like Portland, downtown Eugene would include the whole spectrum of professional and government offices and an endless variety of commercial businesses in a glorious interplay.

 

WHAT IS THE DOWNSIDE? The only downside risk to this good idea lurks in the possibility that Triad might hire an uninspired architect who would design an ugly hospital building. If Triad had the good sense to follow the lead of UCLA and hire a world-class architect of the caliber of Robert A.M. Stern and I.M. Pei, then Eugene would surely be blessed. If a new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital were built on the Civic Stadium site, it would become an instant prominent Eugene landmark. The view from its upper floors would be spectacular, with Skinner Butte plainly visible to the north and Spencer Butte plainly visible to the south.

 

POSITIVES:

• Being located on Amazon Parkway to the east, the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital would have quick access to southeast Eugene and to I-5 and communities located south of Eugene on the interstate, and also to Pleasant Hill and Oakridge and the rural populations along Highway 58.

• Being located on Willamette Street to the west, the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital would have quick access to south Eugene and the rural populations located south of Spencer Butte and also out Lorane Highway.

• Being located two blocks south of 18th Avenue, the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital would have quick access to west Eugene.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE ELECTRIC STREETCARS? Electric streetcar systems are expensive to build, but they are cheaper to maintain over time than gasoline-powered busses—and they are environmentally friendly. The streetcars can be sleek and quiet or they can be quaint and noisy with clanging bells. In either case, however, they need a maintenance garage to take refuge in during the wee hours.

 

Offhand, it seems the best location for a streetcar maintenance garage would be between Oak Street and Pearl Street between E. 5th Avenue and E. 6th Avenue. This suggests itself because a second streetcar line could loop from there to the new Federal Courthouse and thereby alleviate the parking and access problems currently plaguing that building. It would be tricky, but the solution works. Head east on E. 5th Ave from Pearl Street and just keep going parallel to the train tracks on the east side of High Street under the Ferry Street Bridge roadwork all the way to the new Federal Courthouse, and then loop back. The cutback exit from the Ferry Street Bridge roadwork that loops back under the Ferry Street Bridge roadwork might have to be abandoned or significantly altered, but that might be a small price to pay to solve a vexing problem.

 

Long term, other electric streetcar lines could be added to the system that would either intersect the original line or actually connect with it in a continuous flow option. For instance, another line could run loop from Amazon Parkway to University Street between E. 19th Avenue and E. 24th Avenue. Also, another line could loop desirably between downtown Eugene and the Lane County Fairgrounds.

Simply stated: the time to build an electric streetcar system in downtown Eugene is now,

We will perhaps never again have such a powerful and Eugene-friendly presence in Washington, D.C., as we now enjoy with Rep. Peter DeFazio. Carpe diem! If pork is being served, we should get our share. Subsidies and grants from the U.S. government are what make electric streetcar systems affordable for American cities.

And so enough already. There is no middleman in this deal. Be wary of the critics who might appear, and follow the money back to the reasons why. Many bad ideas reach fruition in our community because the rich and powerful few have a stake in the game.

If the leaders and decision-makers of Eugene School District 4J keep their heads on straight, then the only people getting rich in this deal are the future generations of children who will become educated in our public schools. God bless them!

 

P.S. I am a committee of one. The above is entirely my own idea. Contact me by e-mail at SSylwester@aol.com Copies of this proposal were presented to Roy J. Orr, CEO, McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center; George Russell, superintendent, Eugene School District 4J; and Mayor Kitty Piercy.