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Letters to the Editor

by: Mike Light Editorial cartoon by Mike Light of Oregon City.

We want Cabela's

When Cabela's went into Lacey, Wash., the community added many new hotels, motels, RV parks and restaurants. People from all over make Cabela's a destination visit. I know people from Portland that travel to Cabela's in Lacey for one to two days. They spend money on gas, food and lodging in Lacey so they can shop at Cabela's. Movie theaters and specialty shops give other members of the family options for alternate activities while in the area. All this would be possible with Cabela's in The Rivers development.

Another point I would like to make is that Fred Bruning of CenterCal has a proven track record for making economic improvements in communities in our area. Their most notable project is Bridgeport in Tualatin. The comments from the citizens and city commissioners in Tigard and Tualatin have been overwhelmingly positive for how Bridgeport enhanced economic development. Bruning has also done a similar project in Gresham at Cascade Station, which was received with similar positive responses from the community.

It seems with CenterCal's proven track record in other communities, they should be better received by our city commission. We too can have economic improvement in our community. We need to invest some urban renewal dollars to get the economic improvement rewards. The business owners understand the need for this investment as do many citizens of Oregon City.

Let's move forward with having a positive community, city commission and city government so the business can come into Oregon City creating jobs and economic improvement.

Bill Elliott

Oregon City

It's too easy to blame Nicita

A recall is a radical action. It is an important tool of direct democracy, but voters should reserve it for special cases, like malfeasance, corruption or failing to be responsive to overwhelming popular will.

There is no special case here. This is just an old-fashioned power play, with signatures collected by professional gatherers paid with money from real estate development interests.

More about the power play later, but first, what is the case for the recall? Essentially, that Jim Nicita has an anti-development bias, and this bias 'Killed Cabela's.'

For the uninitiated, Cabela's was a potential tenant in the proposed Rivers shopping center development. The Rivers was to be built just south of Home Depot on the old landfill property owned by the Parker family. The deal finally died this year, with the developer publicly blaming its 'no go' decision on Jim Nicita.

Don't believe it. Here are the facts:

In 2008, CenterCal Development proposed to develop The Rivers shopping center with the support of an urban renewal subsidy of approximately $17 million. The justification for the subsidy was the high costs of developing on a landfill. With the subsidy, the developer argued, the development could be a fancy 'lifestyle' center like Bridgeport Plaza in Tualatin rather than a run of the mill strip mall. In its proposal, the developer stated that the developer had an option to buy the landfill property from the Parker family. After the 2008-09 financial meltdown, CenterCal pulled the plug on the development and the option expired.

In 2011, CenterCal submitted a new proposal, for a different, less fancy shopping center. This second proposal, like the first one, continued to seek a $17 million subsidy. Unlike the first one, the second proposal was contingent on CenterCal obtaining an agreement to purchase the property from the Parker family. The Urban Renewal Commission, on which I sit, felt that it made no sense to deal with a developer who did not control the land to be developed. And so the deal died.

If blame is the right word, you can blame the death of The Rivers development on the entire Urban Renewal Commission, which acted by consensus on this issue. Or you can blame the developer for failing to arrange for the extension of the option. Or you can blame the landowner for not granting the extension on terms the developer could accept. However, it is simply false to say Jim Nicita 'Killed Cabela's.'

Now back to the power play, the real reason for the recall. A few years ago, a prior Oregon City Commission unanimously approved a plan to subsidize deals like The Rivers with up to $100 million in borrowed money. Since then, in two regularly scheduled elections, Oregon City voters removed three of those Commissioners and replaced them with three new commissioners who refuse to be a rubber stamp for willynilly implementation of this plan. Jim Nicita is one of these three. If development interests can 'pick off' Nicita with this recall, they can reverse some of their losses.

There are two legitimate sides to most political issues, and there is nothing wrong with running a candidate against Jim Nicita when his term is up. But there is something wrong with real estate development interests paying to collect signatures to remove a hard working, honest and well-intentioned elected official who has done nothing more than keep his campaign promises.

Phil Yates

Oregon City

Remove Nicita…add Cabela's

Oregon City has a limited supply of buildable commercial property. That's why it's extremely important to focus on the available property at the entry to our city, the Rossman Landfill.

We had a pivotal project proposed for this site, one that not only got the blessing from DEQ, by cleaning up and containing an old, abandoned landfill, but would have also provided over 1,500 direct, indirect and construction-related jobs. The developer of this potential economic game-changer has stated he would revisit his proposal, only if the political climate in Oregon City changes enough to provide a comfort level for writing a multi-million dollar check.

The Urban Renewal Commission, which oversees this site and the potential project, is composed of 10 individuals; five are elected city commissioners. Commissioner Nicita has proven to follow his own agenda regardless of how much his constituents disagree. Commissioner Roth, although against The Rivers project initially, is now finding her own voice and reconsidering her position. City commissioners Smith, Mumm and Mayor Neeley already have seen the merits to this project and are ready to move forward with this important project. There are five other members appointed on the URC, three of which have their own personal agenda. They cannot be removed effectively.

Nicita has had ample opportunity to review his position and consider the opinions of the vast majority of residents of Oregon City. Instead, he chooses to ignore them.

It's time for Oregon City to get moving in the right direction. It's time to create jobs, rather than dwell on lost opportunity. It's time to send a message to politicians like Jim Nicita who are more interested in personal political agendas than they are in improving the lives of their constituents.

Robb Crocker

Oregon City

Nicita isn't my hero

I'm sick and tired of letters about Nicita being a 'hero for the common man.'

I'm the 'common man,' and he's no hero of mine. I'm married, got three kids and I work hard to put food on the table. We've got a little garden and love sports and outdoor activities. I want my kids to have jobs when they get a little older and live the American dream. This Nicita fellow doesn't care about jobs and he has a sneaky way of blocking any real development of them. That's no way to build a healthy city.

And another thing, I'm sick about this whole recall thing being painted as some scheme to get Dan Fowler rich. I filed the recall petition before I even met Fowler. If he was going to make a few bucks when The Rivers came in, well good for him. Isn't that the American way? A lot of other people were going to make more money than him and that's OK too.

Point is, The Rivers would have been good for all of our community and Nicita won't have anything to do with it. That's not the kind of leadership we need.

Rex Parks Jr.

Oregon City

My choice in recall election

Vote no to join the common taxpayer, who believes the city should spend your tax dollars wisely for the benefit of all citizens including all business owners, not just a select few.

Vote yes to join with the self-proclaimed elite of Oregon City, if you believe many of your tax dollars should be spent primarily to support their personal business interests. I voted NO.

Tom O'Brien

Oregon City

Nicita's hurdle-setting tactics

With heavy influence from Jim Nicita and his controlled members, the Urban Renewal Commission placed hurdle after hurdle to block the development of The Rivers and the 1,500 jobs it would create.

These hurdles were not wise, risk-reducing measures, but clearly set the tone for the negotiations and the future relationship between the developer, the property owner and the Urban Renewal Commission. The developer had already spent millions of dollars to hold the land for future purchase. The urban renewal dollars, which were part of the draft agreement, were clearly to mitigate the added costs of building on a landfill. The $17 million was not even payable to the developer unless they demonstrated success with the project with an 80 percent occupancy rate for the The Rivers.

This reimbursement approach virtually eliminated risk to the URC and placed the success of the project on the developer. The purchase agreement requirement between the developer and landowner was just another hurdle to demonstrate Nicita's intent to make the relationship with all parties unbearable.

In addition, Nicita states he's always been against The Rivers and references his campaign in 2008. Yet, with the next breath, he indicates he didn't kill The Rivers and implies he was negotiating, through his controlled Urban Renewal Commission, in good faith. What is clear is Nicita has made life extremely difficult for any developer working with the Urban Renewal Agency. Furthermore, he's not advocating for the success of jobs-creating projects. It's one thing to be cautious and ensure a good business deal, but it's another to incrementally create hurdle after hurdle to delay any project.

The loss of The Rivers is the result of Nicita's performance, but he's demonstrated his hurdle-setting delays with any endeavor which doesn't meet his philosophies of anti-retail - regardless of the will of the majority of the citizens.

Don Slack

Oregon City