All pay, but only a few benefit

by: L.E. BASKOW, Possible plans to mount the old Sauvie Island Bridge over Interstate 405 have some readers wondering if the move is the best use of public money.

I just read 'Bridge troubles the waters' (April 25). I grew up in Southeast Portland and have lived in Southwest Portland for 21 years now. I own the smallest house in the neighborhood, yet I pay one heck of a lot in property taxes.

There are three proposed projects in Southwest for construction of sidewalks. If you have been out here, you know the area is severely lacking in sidewalks and curbs - yet we are assessed as one of the highest in property taxes.

The Arnold Creek neighborhood approached Sam Adams in June 2007 to help fund a sidewalk from Stephenson Road up to Jackson Middle School.

Adams said no.

He allowed the city to pay for an engineer to draw up a proposal. The engineer said it would cost $972,000 for 1,800 feet of sidewalk. Then city officials came forward to explain that they propose a 'halo LID' (local improvement district) to pay for it, where everyone within a half-mile radius would have to pay their proportionate share of the project. Yet these people live on streets that need sidewalks and curbs also.

How can Adams find $5.5 million for the Sauvie Island Bridge to pander to his own self-interests, but not $972,000 to help a neighborhood sorely in need of sidewalks?

When are we going to stop pandering to special interests and start paying attention to the actual people who pay for those commissioners' salaries?

Good grief, we in the Southwest have to pay a TriMet tax, and we do not get light rail. We have to pay a 'terrain' fee for the garbage people because the 'hills wear the trucks out more,' according to Waste Management.

We have many unimproved streets and are lacking curbs and sidewalks all over, yet the city can find money to waste on another bridge that is solely for those who have lower property taxes than anyone else in the city - and for Adams' special-interest groups?

Now Dan Saltzman wants us to pay to remove trees and Randy Leonard wants to spend a ton of money on bathrooms in downtown for the homeless.

Why are we allowing these people to use our money foolishly? Are we stupid enough to think that Adams won't still want to put a gas tax on us to pay for street improvements, yet he can go and spend $5.5 million on a bridge?!

Karen Koetz

Southwest Portland

Neighbors should pay part of project

I was out of town and just read the fine article on the proposed moving of the Sauvie Island Bridge to the Pearl/Northwest Portland ('Bridge troubles the waters', April 25).

At a time when the city wants Southwest residents to pony up for halo LIDs to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, isn't it fair to ask the Pearl and Northwest residents to pay for the relocation of the bridge?

This city is out of control and no longer considers the needs of the residents at large.

It is at $5.5 million, and counting. Who pays for future improvements and maintenance? Is the original contractor supposed to do lead removal as part of the original contract, and now it gets sent to a yard for paint removal at city expense?

Greg Schifsky

Southwest Portland

Surplus cash pays for legacy builders

As a taxpayer in Portland, I cannot understand why Sam Adams, Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman are so loose with our taxpayers' money ('Bridge troubles the waters', April 25).

The so-called justification by Patricia Gardner that the existing crossings are 'inconvenient' is not a reason to spend $5 million, plus all the overruns that the commissioners won't talk about.

These legacy-building projects that are jammed down our throats by the City Council are a total waste of money when there are more pressing needs. I don't buy the fact that there is no money - they have a $30 million surplus and they can't wait to spend it to look good. Not a dime went to fix anything.

How about helping open the jail, since most of the prisoners are from Portland?

Larry Cooper

Northeast Portland