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Reid Iford is a Tigard resident.

After an intensive six-week review of projects in the downtown Tigard city center area, I have uncovered major systemic flaws in vision, process and design.

Millions in taxpayer money have been squandered, with millions more at stake. A city staff member recently told citizens a two-hour parking limit will be implemented downtown. This will sound the death knell for our city center as a gathering place for the people of Tigard.

Five million taxpayer dollars were splurged on a half-mile improvement to Burnham Street. Nicknamed the Burnham Boondoggle, it is a gigantic, unused sidewalk. The space wasted could have provided desperately needed on-street parking.

The massive expenditure of taxpayer money spent overhauling Main Street, which resulted in 10 less parking spaces than before it began, may be headed for a lawsuit over damage to local businesses.

The Tigard Chamber of Commerce building on Main Street represents a huge donation of time and $50,000 by local citizens. The chamber allowed a Sherwood coffee shop to take over the building. The Tigard Chamber of Commerce is now hidden in the back of the building in a single, tiny office next to the toilets.

Tigard staff are promoting a taxpayer-subsidized, mixed-use commercial apartment complex to be built on three acres of city property located on Burnham Street. City staff concede there will not be adequate parking.

To advance this project, staff want to move the dog park on the corner of Ash and Burnham to a new “temporary” location across the street. They say this will “only” cost city taxpayers $50,000. To accommodate city vehicles displaced by this project — which has not been approved or funded — Tigard already signed a lease, spending $36,000 a year on space to replace property it was using for free.

The Tigard City Center Advisory Commission was formed ostensibly to ensure citizen input in development of the downtown urban renewal district. Review of two years of meeting minutes and attendance at the last commission meeting demonstrate this organization is a tool to rubberstamp staff projects.

This is not to say the CCAC has accomplished nothing. Given $60,000 for an art project to "spruce up" downtown, they hired a Portland artist who proposed building two giant nuts to best represent Tigard's history. When presented to the Tigard City Council, they had the good sense to turn it down, noting it looked too much like “a part of the male anatomy.”

For years, Tigard's Cityscape newsletter informed Tigard residents about their city government. Cityscape was always printed and mailed to Tigard residents and businesses. To save money, Tigard stopped printing Cityscape and now posts it on the city's website. Tigard then took the money they "saved" and hired a new city employee. Their job? To produce Cityscape.

Think these issues don't affect you? Everything that has been done and everything proposed is being paid for with heavy taxpayer subsidies. You are footing the bill.

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