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Letters to the Editor: 7-26-2012

STERILE VISION FOR 4J

I am deeply grateful for Mark Gillem’s recent analysis [cover story 7/19] of the flaws in the proposed 4J Facilities Master Plan. He did not say it, but I will: The emperor has no clothes. Bigger is not better. Newer is not better. More expensive is not better. At one time, the South Eugene region contained Dunn, Fox Hollow, Laurel Hill, Whiteaker, Parker and Condon Schools in addition to Harris, Edison and Edgewood. Within the memory of many residents is also the Glenwood neighborhood school. 

The proposed Master Plan would reduce what once were nine schools into two. After almost 40 years of rejecting simplistic solutions in favor of a nuanced, complex and diverse combination of homegrown neighborhood, alternative and charter schools, I cannot imagine that the voters of Eugene or the patrons of 4J will embrace this sterile vision of our city’s future. Speaking for myself, as a parent, taxpayer, educator and homeowner, I will vote “no” for the first time in my life on the upcoming bond levy that proposes closing and combining more schools in our community. I feel certain that I will not be alone in that choice. 

Mary Bauer, Eugene

 

PUBLIC SAFETY BLACKMAIL

 Springfield and Lane County love to use the fear of jail closures to promote property tax increases. Why not have a graduated property tax like the income tax, only skewed toward an equal burden not in favor of downtown developers, the timber moguls, etc.? A sales tax inherently puts the burden on the poor because it takes a larger percentage of their net worth than the rich. 

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

STARTING A CONVERSATION

Eugene has a proud history of great schools with community support. The district is in the early stages of developing a comprehensive facilities plan that will help continue this history. [See cover story “Which Way, 4J?” last week.]

Most of Eugene’s school buildings are 50 years old or older and some are in marginal condition. The district has maintained these buildings well, but many of these buildings were not optimally designed or constructed. Most were also built at a time when educational, energy efficiency, and technological expectations were dramatically different than they are today. 

In developing a plan, the district’s educational vision includes school buildings that support learning, appealing programs in all four regions of the district, and efficient use of resources. Maintenance of strong neighborhood schools and consistency with educational best practices will also be guiding principles.

The facilities study prepared for 4J builds upon the facility plan developed in 2002 that had wide community input and provides an analysis of the condition of our buildings and a possible district configuration. This initial proposal is intended as a starting place for the community discussion, not the ending place. Any discussion will need to include careful analysis of whether to remodel or rebuild schools. 

The School Board will hold its first work session about the facilities plan Sept. 12. The board’s initial discussion will require the board to decide what plan to forward for input. 

My hope is that community conversation will result in a plan that the community supports and serves all our children well.

Jennifer Geller, Chair, 4J School Board, Eugene

 

EARTH WITHOUT US

Re: “Death to Oysters” [Letters, 7/19]: I am all in for global warning and don’t deny it in the least. I believe we should keep up on overfishing, industrialization, clear cutting and burning copious amounts of fossil fuels and coal to put a large cloud over the world. The quicker we kill ourselves off, the better. Then we could allow the Earth to live and thrive as it once has in its true state: human-less.

Chris Maher, Eugene

 

TITLE TO CAPSTONE

This [7/12 EW] article states that Capstone is going to start a proposed project without having title to all of the land. Looks as if bumps are starting to happen.

Capstone has a local history that is less than sterling. University Commons apartment buildings west of Garden Way and just south of I-105 is an example.

Due diligence by the city of Eugene planning/permitting department among other responsible government, private and business interests could have figured this out.

Eugene does not have to hop on the first turnip truck to come along. If it is a good location someone with capital, vision and maybe integrity will show up.

Also, what sort of long-range management agreement is part of this mix? University Commons has had more than its share of problems.

Chris M. Percival, Prior Capstone sub-contractor, Eugene 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS IN DEXTER

I attended the July 12 land use hearing on Lost Creek Rock Products’ mining of Parvin butte. For nearly three hours, neighbors of the Butte offered compelling, often heartbreaking testimony about the impacts the mining has already had on their lives, and the much greater impact the mining and transport of Parvin Butte rock would have over the next 20 years. 

At stake is the health and wellbeing, the economic and even physical survival, of a large number of Dexter residents — not to mention the viability of salmon and other wildlife in the area. Not only livelihoods, but lives may be destroyed if the blasting and transport of Parvin butte are allowed to continue. 

Multiple neighbors of the Butte testified that they had moved to Dexter specifically because they not only wanted, but needed, a quiet area in which to live, having suffered noise-related trauma and hearing loss that make living in close proximity to active blasting not only an annoyance, but literally a health- and life-threatening proposition. A nearby home houses 11 Vietnam-era veterans suffering from PTSD; those men have been re-traumatized by recent blasting. Another resident with an already-compromised immune system suffered major health setbacks as a result of the April 10 blasting, and needed to testify in absentia. Add dust from the gravel mining into the equation, and the health threats are even greater. 

Residents’ animals, crops and home businesses are all endangered by the mining. One massage therapist needed to cancel a week’s worth of appointments because of mining operations earlier this year. Many of the mine’s neighbors have put their life savings into their homes and properties there, believing they’d be able to work from home, support themselves and age healthily there. These plans are now on hold. 

Testimony also made it clear that the transport of the rock (one large gravel truck every five minutes, 11 hours a day, six days a week, for 20 years) over the already dangerous Rattlesnake Road (with its blind curves, blind pullouts, frequently stopping vehicles and no shoulder) is a recipe for traffic deaths. 

The plan to mine Parvin Butte violates basic human rights — the rights of Dexter residents to health, to safety, to the pursuit of their livelihoods. Only a heartless system of governance would allow this plan to continue. If the codes are poorly written, rewrite them. Meanwhile, when lives are at stake, the code should be simple: Protect them. 

Chris Roth, Dexter