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Letters to the Editor: 9-4-2014

A NEW CIVIC CENTER

As the city has scattered its departments, plans for what is called City Hall have dwindled to an executive suite and council chamber. Such a City Hall might be pretty but it’s hard to think of it as significant, and it occurs to me that the city’s space needs could be satisfied in any typical commercial building.

This unexciting prospect suggests another possibility: Take advantage of a building this city already owns. The Hult Center is, except for its lobby, a big blank concrete box and on the south side its wall is set back about 30 feet from the unloading zone curb.

A one- or two-story structure could be cantilevered off the existing concrete wall. The lower floor at lobby level would not compromise the outdoor space below but would provide shelter. The existing lobby would serve the City Hall space and a door from City Hall would give access to the council chambers, now known as Soreng Theater.

The roof of this addition, sloped as is the existing lobby roof, would be a solar energy collector. 

Before it was named the Hult Center, the building project was called the Eugene Civic Center. With government and the arts sharing space, the building becomes truly a civic center. Meanwhile, a whole city block becomes available for development.

Grant Seder, Eugene

 

PARKLAND WILL REMAIN

As one of the households involved with Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing since February 2012, I read with interest about the distress over our development and appreciate the support from the wider community. The dissatisfaction expressed [Letters, 8/28] does not warrant a personal attack on the people who bought the property and thought cohousing would be good for the greater River Road neighborhood. 

Cohousing attracts people who are willing to share resources and live in a way that is more sustainable for our community. The 2.3 privately owned acres will have 28 private homes and a common house, and is denser than we are generally accustomed to in the U.S. We have committed our time and finances to designing the site and homes, and really our futures. The public parkland that exists now will exist when the privately owned land is developed. 

We need to support the city of Eugene in fostering development that is smart, sustainable and is not more of the same.

Laura Fischrup, Eugene

 

BLASTING THROUGH TOWN

Quiet please! Eugene has 10 at-grade train crossings as it moves through Eugene, and knowing that each train is federally mandated to blast a minimum of four times at each street crossings, each train will blast a minimum of 40 times on its Eugene passage. We currently have an estimated 28 trains transversing Eugene daily, resulting in a minimum of 1,120 train blasts occurring in our city daily! The high volume blasting will only continue to increase yearly. 

Other Oregon cities have enacted quiet zones for rail traffic, including Portland, Salem; even little Westfir east of Eugene has a quiet zone. Other cities around the country are enjoying the pleasure of quiet daytimes and evenings while still embracing the growing required train traffic.

Please write to the Eugene City Council members and the mayor to act on the already explored decision to create a mandatory quiet zone for our growing city and surrounding community. The City Council will be reviewing again what’s necessary to create the city’s quiet train zone this coming Oct. 8 at a work session. They will not be taking public testimony on the matter at that session, but will take public comments at a later City Council session. A public showing of support is very important at all future meetings. 

Imagine hearing birds singing in the mornings, or just enjoying a train-free peaceful quiet night again.

Dan McGee, Eugene

 

THE WORST LOCATION

Bob Emmons [Viewpoint, 8/21] is right. We have to demand repeal of the law mandating a 20-year supply of buildable land for all municipalities. Who knows what will be needed in 20 years? Who says buildable land can’t include brownfields such as the place where that mill burned down in Springfield? Why can’t Springfield reuse all the land it has wasted? Why can’t it build apartment buildings and row houses as Eugene is doing? Why does Gateway Mall take up several square miles?

That buildable lands law was written by and for real estate speculators, gravel barons and other wannabe aristocrats who see people and nature as things to be exploited. They wish to crush everyone, every being, because they want to control everything.

However, none of this addresses the glaring fact that Seavey Loop is the worst possible location for an industrial zone. The Seavey Loop area and Mount Pisgah are the most nourishing, most alive oases in central Lane County, but when industrialists, speculators and land barons look at this lush and productive area, they only see a drain which can be turned into a sewer.

Ann Tattersall, Eugene

 

SOMEBODY’S BABY

Despite our intense summer heat lots of people have had garage sales cleaning out their homes of things they no longer need or use. For the sake of all our children we need to clean out our stereotypes, prejudices, perceptions and feelings of distrust and fear. Our attitudes and behaviors impact all our children. In life we do not all look the same, but difference does not equate with enemy.

Michael Brown is somebody’s child. Kajieme Powell is somebody’s child. John Crawford III is somebody’s child.

We need to open our hearts to people we encounter on a daily basis and let them know that we see them and that we welcome them as neighbors. We need to allow ourselves to become vulnerable and uncomfortable in building new connections. James Baldwin once said, “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” 

Every child deserves to be loved, to be seen and to be safe. Every day. Everywhere. Every child.

Deb & Christopher Michaels, Eugene

 

KIDS GETTING SMART

SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) is starting its 23rd year encouraging children to love reading by matching them with a volunteer reader for weekly reading sessions. This program was started in Oregon and is unique to Oregon. SMART uses no tax money or school funds, but relies instead on donations and fundraisers. 

Unfortunately, Oregon has a lower than average number of children who are reading independently by the third grade. Educators have shown us that it is important for children to learn to read independently by the end of third grade because from the fourth grade on, they need to read to be able to learn. SMART reads with pre-K through third grade, depending on each school’s need and request. The coordinator for each school recruits adult volunteers to commit to reading, one on one, with the SMART kid they are matched with, every week. A special bond develops as the children and volunteers share books’ laughter and reading. Being with the same child, you get to see their progress and the joy they express as they discover the wonder of books. 

 The volunteers generally read for an hour, reading a half hour with two different SMART kids. Some volunteer readers commit to more than one reading session, and a few are able to commit only occasionally and become substitute readers, covering for absences. We welcome all lovers of children and books.

Besides sharing reading with the children, we are also able to let them pick two books a month to take home to keep for their own home library. This is a terrific hit!

Learn more about SMART at getsamartoregon.org or call the local SMART office in Springfield at 726-3302.

Barbara George, SMART coordinator, Cesar E. Chavez School

 

RIGHT TO PANHANDLE

I would like to respond to all the recent anti-panhandler and homeless letter writers. Too bad for you — the Supreme Court upholds the right of every citizen to hold a sign in public. Get used to it!

Thankfully, those who believe in generous, hand-to-hand charity will continue to ignore persistent, hypocritical calls for discouraging panhandling, or the continued helping of our local homeless; they deserve to have spare change in their pockets, and a suitable roof over their heads, like the rest of society. Show me where the jobs are for these people, or why they should all be running fool’s errands in search of them, when they need homes first!

There are many good reasons why homeless people prefer not to use shelters, like the Eugene Mission — the first being, because they don’t have to — that too, is their rightful choice. The Mission’s program is a highly specialized course that perhaps will help many, but not everyone needs or wants this kind of program.

As for the remaining majority of our homeless, who would be turned away at the door for their numbers alone, it is very unfair and foolish to assume that the Mission is open to all, when it’s clearly not! Stop over-promoting something that was never meant as a cure-all, or from shielding your eyes from having to look at what real income inequality and joblessness looks like. This is the reason why we must help the homeless, because they cannot help themselves.

Danielle Smith, Springfield

 

SEETHING EX?

I read the letter from Amy Mills regarding a confrontation in Down to Earth [8/14] with mixed emotion — sadness and relief.

It seems they encountered my ex! 

Art Cady, Springfield