Money should be spent on core services
This is a response to Ellie McPeak's citizen's view (in last week's Review), 'Some arguments are distorted.'
Reading her comments provided a flashback to Sept. 27, 2007, when Judie Hammerstad had a column in the Review titled 'Some claims have been exaggerated.' That article dealt with a different subject of course, the purchase of the Safeco Building. Those in favor of the streetcar keep repeating 'we can't let this opportunity slip by.' They similarly tried to convince us purchase of Safeco was a 'once in a lifetime deal.' It is the same people pushing for spending taxpayers money for something not needed, not wanted and beyond our abilities to pay.
McPeak stated she only recently decided on the streetcar alternative. It was necessary to keep an appearance of neutrality since she held her position on the Citizens Advisory Committee. That committee's appointments appeared stacked in favor of the streetcar and the final outcome seemed obvious. When McPeak ran for re-election in 2004 she stated her support for the streetcar and Foothills redevelopment. Did she later become neutral only to swing back now?
She mentioned 'some elected officials ... have been speaking against the streetcar for several months.' Two of the city councilors just joined in January, so they hadn't been speaking as elected officials before then. They ran and were elected partly on the basis they opposed the streetcar. A third candidate in the last election also opposes the streetcar and just missed being elected and being the swing vote.
McPeak stated officials should keep an open mind on the subject until public testimony is heard on the (council session Tuesday evening). Shouldn't that have also been directed to the other four members of the council who have avidly been supporting the streetcar for many months as elected officials? One of them already voted for the streetcar as a member of the Metro project steering committee. You only have to go back to Dec. 13 and sensitive lands to understand how much that council listened to and was responsive to public testimony.
It may be that preliminary estimates were $10 to 20 million as Lake Oswego's share of costs, but those figures disappeared a long time ago. More important, those were best-case scenarios with the feds financing 60 percent and the right-of-way valued close to $100 million as offset to the regional share. If the feds in fact do contribute (with the continuing budget fight that is doubtful), we should look to no more than 50 percent in this economy. The appraisal of the right-of-way is vastly skewed upwards and is probably less than the $50 million DEIS stated it's value to have been in 2007. In fact a $32 million Lake Oswego share may be optimistic. To proceed with 'looking at the feasibility' will cost this city $2.5 million for further studies for a project that will probably die for lack of federal and/or state funds after such expenditure. That money can be better utilized for core services.
Gary Gipson is a resident of Lake Oswego. While he is a member of COLA-LO, he says he is writing this as a private citizen.