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Hidden Springs plan has flaws

Jim Hart's depiction of city officials in a row with neighbors was a very disappointing misrepresentation of the truth.

Members of the Neighborhood Leadership Planning Team, HSNA residents and officers gave many hours of their time assisting the consultant. Volunteers evaluated and categorized more than 300 emails and reduced them to 19 questions or goals which the consultant chose to ignore. When the consultant failed to send out the neighborhood-wide mailing at the beginning of the process, HSNA volunteers distributed more than 300 copies of the survey door to door in an effort to overcome the consultant's mistake.

The consultant repeatedly failed to notify some members of the NLPT of meeting dates and refused to accommodate NLPT members without Internet access. HSNA officers were instructed to perform these consultant responsibilities, which they did. The consultant initially refused to keep minutes of the NLPT meetings and repeatedly introduced items into the plan that had not been evaluated by the NLPT, wasting much citizen and consultant time making corrections to the consultant's work. Mr. Cogan's responses to questions from some of the NLPT members were dismissive and rude and did not meet his usual professional standards. Arnold Cogan accused the HSNA NLPT of causing the process to go over budget and demanded that volunteers take time from their jobs to attend a special meeting regarding the budget. Mr. Cogan failed to bring budget documents to the meeting he had demanded for that purpose and instead presented members with a paper instructing them how to behave at meetings. Several members of the NLPT were so deeply offended that they resigned from the NLPT. It seemed as if Cogan just wanted all those pesky citizens to go away so Cogan could write a plan without having to bother with resident input at all. Fortunately, that did not happen, members of the NLPT were replaced and citizen development of the plan continued. According to Mr. Cogan, HSNA had the only NLPT that attended all the scheduled meetings.

The members of HSNA previously voted not to approve the current plan or present it to the council. They perceived it as incomplete and were concerned that no process is in place to make corrections or additions to neighborhood plans. We would be stuck with an incomplete, inadequate plan that did not represent the residents of HNSA and with no way to change it. At the last NLPT meeting Mr. Cogan demanded that the NLPT vote to approve the plan and that he be placed on the agenda at the November 21st meeting to 'get this thing approved.'

Since the HSNA membership had already voted not to approve the plan at a well attended meeting, the NLPT was reluctant to agree to support the still incomplete plan.

Mr. Cogan then promised to send out a mailing to the residents regarding presentation of the Final Draft at the November 21st meeting. The NLPT reluctantly agreed, not knowing that Mr. Cogan would continue to alter the plan after their vote. The NLPT was hoping the mailing would increase participation but Mr. Cogan never sent this promised mailing either.

If anyone was betrayed it was the members of the NLPT and the residents of Hidden Springs. Members did not approve the plan at the November meeting.

For the record, I never recanted anything. We aren't involved in an Inquisition yet, are we? I serve the members of the Hidden Springs Neighborhood Association and they voted to proceed with development of their plan with the consultant chosen by the city when the city changed the rules in the middle of the game.

HSNA officers, members of the NLPT and residents of Hidden Springs have gone to extraordinary measures to work with the consultant.

Perhaps the simultaneous development of four plans involving citizen input within seven months was too ambitious even for a firm with COC's reputation. When questioned about the inadequacy of the plan at the HSNA public meeting, Mr. Cogan stated 'We (COC) blew it!'

If the consultant admits the plan is inadequate, why should Hidden Springs or the Council approve his flawed plan?

It's called a neighborhood plan, not a consultant plan.

Fortunately, the members of Hidden Springs voted to continue to develop the plan and anticipate a process much like Willamette's.

Apparently Willamette replaced a planner that did not meet their needs and took several years to create a very good and ENFORCEABLE plan. Hidden Springs residents just want to be treated like other taxpayers have been treated.

I want to thank the NLPT, residents of Hidden Springs and members of the city staff who have graciously contributed their time and energy to creating the neighborhood plan. Their wisdom, patience and perseverance are greatly appreciated.

Lynn Fox is a West Linn resident and president of the Hidden Springs Neighborhood Association.