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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 2.25.10




Filling the Pit

And building the future

By Mayor Kitty Piercy

Over a recent weekend many people asked me how they could help get the LCC development to a successful completion in our downtown. These were folks at Cozmic Pizza, the Broadway, the KLCC event, the UO women’s basketball game and the Junior League fundraiser. It became really clear to me how much this means to so many of us. 

 Filling the pit across from the library with an innovative LEED standard energy center is just the ticket. It would provide hundreds of short-term construction jobs as we climb out of this recession, provide 45 long-term jobs in our downtown and train students for green jobs; and it may even include some housing options. It is exactly what we have said we want in our community in terms of education, economic development and people living, working and playing downtown. It is doable.

 LCC President Mary Spilde and the LCC board are committed to this project and have secured much of the funding. It all looks terrific. They may well need some help from the city of Eugene to close the remaining gap, and we are discussing this at the council level. 

 The LCC site would be located in our urban renewal district, which provides us a tool to assist without having to go to the public for tax increases. 

 The challenge is that some of our community members are ardently opposed to urban renewal.

 Those who oppose the use of urban renewal point to the long and checkered history of the district and the fact that it never fulfilled its promise to build and then close down, allowing tax proceeds to eventually go back to the taxing districts such as the state school system or the county. 

 The proposal before the council is to discretely use urban renewal funding to assist with the LCC education project and some targeted public safety and social service components. These are specific uses that the public has told us they believe we should address. It is a balanced and relatively modest proposal. It includes an auditing process to ensure the usages are for these specific projects only, and the urban renewal district is to be closed down when they are completed. 

 Many fear we will not secure adequate support and once again will face the specter of failure that the pits have come to symbolize. 

My eyes are set firmly on what I believe is an incredible opportunity for us and one that is a stepping stone into our future that we will be proud of for generations to come. 

It took a lot to build the Hult Center for the Performing Arts and the new public library. Neither was easy, but they are highly valued core attributes of our community. The LCC project is the same. 

If you have questions, I want to answer them. If you have concerns, I want to address them. If you are willing to help, please let me know now. I will need your community voice to bring this project to fruition. Together I know we can do this. 

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy can be contacted at kitty.piercy@ci.eugene.or.us