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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 9.29.11




Time for Cohesion

Rethinking northwest Eugene neighborhoods

By Carleen Reilly

The Santa Clara-River Road Outreach and Learning project (SCRROL) will host two forums from 6:30 to 9 pm Oct. 4 and Oct. 13 in the Santa Clara neighborhood. The first Forum will be held at Madison Middle School at 875 Wilkes Dr. and the second at the River Road Annex, 1055 River Road. The purpose of the forums will be to build a cohesive voice for our residents’ vision for the future of our communities. Pizza and beverages will be provided, but please RSVP at info@SCRROL.org or call 688-1406.

The SCRROL Leadership Team emerged at the beginning of the year to help our neighbors rethink our neighborhoods as we transition into the coming decades. We have functioned for 30 years with a patchwork of properties under the governance of either the city of Eugene or Lane County. With citizens of countries around the world taking the initiative to question their governance, it seems natural that we, too, should consider how our neighborhoods could become less confusing and more fair to all. As Lane County properties transitioned to the city of Eugene, the taxbase for our services districts for River Road Parks and Recreation, Santa Clara Fire and Lane Rural Fire has eroded. Our land use laws have allowed the construction of houses and strip malls but the development didn’t grow in a fashion that enhanced the sense of community or provided goods and services needed. Our current situation allows more cars to travel faster without taking into consideration the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. In some instances, it doesn’t allow unincorporated properties to build granny cottages in large backyards. 

When a neighborhood has become stagnant and edges toward decline and deterioration, some residents and businesses seek ways to learn what neighbors think the p roblems are and what possible solutions could streamline and protect properties and allow the neighborhood to grow in a healthy direction. The SCRROL Leadership Team has undertaken the task of talking with hundreds of our residents. More than 70 volunteers have assisted in collecting our neighbors’ stories and the options they suggested. We have participated in 14 community events to listen to neighbors concerns and held deeper conversations at home gatherings. 

We are interviewing local businesses and Latino neighbors to gain their perspective on community needs. SCRROL hosted with the city of Eugene the first Concert in Park in Santa Clara and a crime prevention stop for the Police Caravan for National Night Out at North Eugene High School. We conducted interviews with our service districts to learn their strengths and what they need to continue to serve us.

SCRROL has communicated with elected officials from the city of Eugene and Lane County Commission. We met with city staff to keep them informed of our progress and to discuss our information needs to educate our neighbors about our unique and confusing circumstances.

SCRROL is now planning these forums to meet with as many neighbors as possible and share with them what we have learned about our confusing governance, unusual land use patterns, transportation concerns, and parks and recreational needs. The purpose of the forums will be to build a cohesive voice for our residents’ vision for the future of our communities. 

The culmination of this work will be to use this information to advocate for neighborhood priorities and inform the updating of new regional planning for our areas. Planning that the neighborhood undertakes will provide us predictability about how and where we will grow and protect the valued trees, natural stormwater drainage, larger lot size, and other amenities.

This is an exciting time, and we need as many neighbors participating in the forums as possible to accurately represent their views as we build a vision for our neighborhood. If we don’t make plans for ourselves, others will.

Carleen Reilly is secretary of SCRROL and writes on behalf of the SCRROL Leadership Team. She can be reached at carleen@scrrol.org and the website is http://www.scrrol.org Jerry Finigan is the chair and can be reached at jerry@scrrol.org