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NA setting name-change precedent

A number of people in the Tanner Basin Neighborhood Association (TBNA) would like a name change for their area.

The neighborhood has become smaller than when it was first named, and its president, David Rittenhouse, doesn't feel like the name fits the neighborhood association (NA) anymore.

'Everything related to Tanner isn't in our neighborhood anymore,' Rittenhouse said. 'Tanner Creek Park and Tanner Creek aren't in our neighborhood anymore. And we're not in Tanner Basin; we're largely on a hill (overlooking the Willamette area).'

Several members of the TBNA are disappointed because they thought it was enough that their proposal of a name change was approved by the city council in the TBNA plan, which became advisory to the city's Comprehensive Plan.

'We actually voted to change our name to Savanna Oaks Neighborhood Association,' Rittenhouse said. 'The city is apparently OK with changing the name, but they want to build a process so that others who might want to do the same have a way of doing it.'

The name that Rittenhouse and his neighbors have chosen is related to a small grove of Oregon White Oak trees on the south-facing hillside overlooking the intersection of 10th Street and I-205.

'We wanted to name our association after something that actually exists in our neighborhood,' he said. 'We thought the oak savanna was the most prestigious and unique landmark in our neighborhood.'

Rittenhouse's research showed him that most of Oregon's old oak savannas do not exist anymore. That fact makes the West Linn savanna unique.

'Less than 1 percent of the oak savannas in Oregon still exist,' he said. 'They are very rare. And the largest savannas in Oregon are near Salem and Eugene.'

Some members of the TBNA are conducting fund-raising and other efforts to preserve that savanna and keep it in either private protected or public protected status.

If any area of West Linn should be called Tanner Basin, Rittenhouse suggested, it would be the Parker Crest Neighborhood Association, since it includes the Tanner Creek Park as well as Tanner Creek and its basin.

And there are a couple of the other 10 neighborhoods in the city that have asked how they could move their boundaries, according to City Manager Chris Jordan.

But the city could not find in its NA regulations any method already established on name or boundary changes.

So last February, the city council asked Jordan to write some administrative policies governing those or other similar changes and submit to the council for approval.

City managers are now working on those policies as well as a streamlined method of dealing with NA spending, while neighborhoods wait for a procedure that will satisfy their needs.

'There has never been a process for these kinds of changes,' Jordan said, 'so we're going to establish a simple process for that.'

On the issue of NA spending of city funds, Kirsten Wyatt, assistant to the city manager, says the city's finance department is planning to make spending easier for all.

'We will be redefining how NAs receive their grant funds,' Wyatt said. 'Currently they are reimbursed, but we will be introducing a debit card format.'