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City notification could save residents money

It is this lack of concern for its citizens that is a continual problem for some city staff.

I live in the 2600 block of B Street, across from Harvey Clarke Elementary School in Forest Grove.

I have lived at this location for the past 20 years. When I bought the property, sidewalks existed only on the Harvey Clarke side of the street. I have always assumed that sidewalks would one day be installed on my side of the street, but I had also assumed I would have knowledge of and involvement in that process.

Over the years I as well as many of the other residents of B Street, located within a two-block area both north and south of Harvey Clarke, have made improvements to their properties along the street. Just in the last two years I have installed a sprinkler system and shrubs. This has been in an effort to keep my property presentable.

This past summer I heard a rumor that the city had applied for and been awarded a grant for sidewalks along B Street. I contacted the city engineering office and spoke with the engineer assigned to the project.

I learned that the city had applied for a grant and that the grant had been awarded. I was told construction would probably start next summer in 2012 and extend from 23rd Avenue to Primrose Lane on both sides of the street. The engineer told me that he did not know the exact requirement for the grant but assumed that since it was a federal grant, the federal standards would need to be met.

These standards included a planting strip and a six-foot-wide sidewalk. This would push the sidewalk at least ten feet into my present yard.

Not knowing the exact timeline of the application/grant process, I must assume that the city knew about and planned for the application at least one year previous to the award.

This would be the summer of 2010. The grant was awarded this summer. I as a property owner in the affected area received no notification of the application or awarding of the grant. The city has made no effort to contact me or the other property owners.

I was able to contact a school district representative who also knew nothing about the grant being awarded, even though the district is currently working on improvements to the sidewalks around Harvey Clarke as part of their bond improvements.

Those improvements would need to be approved by the city engineering department, which is certainly aware of the grant.

Let us hope that their approval does not result in our tax dollars being wasted if the improvements do not meet the grant requirements. Will this be another example of a just-finished project being torn up within months of completion?

It is this lack of care and concern for its citizens that is a continual problem for some of the city staff. The callousness directed towards the citizenry is only exemplified by this situation.

Often times even if input is received from citizens or employees, it is totally disregarded because some staff members think they know what is best for an uninformed or uneducated public.

With proper notification, I personally could have saved money spent on landscaping.

I might have also felt involved and had the opportunity to express my concerns about design. Instead of looking at what is truly best for the city and its citizens, which includes the property owners, your staff once again accepted federal dollars without regard to mandated requirements.

The city shows no concern for the impact this will make on property owners. You would think that with all the negative publicity the city has been receiving that you and your staff would be more aware of perception.

It is too late to have any input in the application process. It appears we will have no input in the design process.

It would be nice to receive some official notification of the grant. I first learned of the project during the summer and have yet to receive official word. Many of the property owners have both trees and shrubs that will need to be moved and it would cause less stress to move them during the winter.

It would also be nice to know the design standards so we would know where to move them.

- Robert K. Farris lives in Forest Grove.



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