Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy delivered a sober assessment of the State of the City last week in an address at the Hult Center.
“I’d like to be here tonight telling you that things will be much in better in 2012,” Piercy said. “But, in truth, the uncertain financial forecast continues to impact every government and every household. No matter what I read or who I listen to, the news isn’t very good.”
“Economists tell us that by 2020, we still will not be back to where we were before the recession,” Piercy said. Eugene’s 10.5 percent unemployment rate is “slightly better than the nation” but still “way too high,” she said.
But Piercy touted $43 million in road repairs “providing 495 well-paying jobs” and 450 jobs from $100 million in new development in Eugene’s long-struggling downtown. The downtown projects include the historic remodel of the Centre Court building, the Woolworth building in the former Aster pit, the new LCC downtown center and 200 units of student dorms in the former Sears pit, the Inn at 5th, the renovation of the Taco Time building “and more to come,” Piercy said.
Piercy praised the police department for handling the Occupy Eugene protests in a cooperative and compassionate way that “prevented conflict and saved resources.”
Despite taxpayers struggling to make ends meet in the recession, “It is likely we’ll be asking you to support another road bond in the future,” Piercy said.
Piercy said the community benefits from a strong transit system and noted the new bike and pedestrian plan’s calls for increasing those modes. “There’s strong interest in developing bike lanes that are completely separated from traffic so that all riders can feel safer moving around the community,” she said.
The mayor called for unity and optimism. “We must step beyond the national political rancor, step beyond the confines of difficulty and pettiness,” she said. Piercy noted the city’s 150th birthday this year.
“We aren’t just any community,” Piercy said. “We are on the move. We are Eugene.”