Brewer: Corps won’t repay city for Foster Dam water release

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
City Manager Nancy Brewer informed the Lebanon City Council during its Thursday, Sept. 14, meeting that the Army Corps of Engineers would not repay the city for expenses incurred from the release of a significant amount of water from Foster Dam without warning in May.
The event was the result of a lawsuit by environmentalists regarding endangered fish populations. The unexpected water increase caused an excess of debris at Lebanon’s intake system, which ultimately cost the city $13,160 to clean.
Brewer informed the Corps that the city would send a bill for its negligence to inform Lebanon of its plan. The Corps responded via phone that it wouldn’t pay but would instead discuss what it ought to be doing for Lebanon. The Corps told her that it would normally have notified affected cities in the past but lacked the formal mechanism to notify locations of plans for significant water release.
“They did very clearly and politely say they are a large, very slow-moving bureaucracy, and we just are going to have to be patient on whether or not they put something in place in a more formal fashion,” Brewer said. “I feel like they understand the challenge they created for us and that they could potentially improve their interactions in a way that could be beneficial to other river users.”
Speaking of water, Councilor Michelle Steinhebel asked Brewer to explain a recent incident in the city regarding water bills. Brewer said that because of recent turnover on the city’s billing staff, bills were sent late and were also accidentally mailed to closed accounts.
Mayor Paul Aziz and councilors Jeremy Savage and Wayne Rieskamp were absent.

In other business, the council:
♦ Held a public hearing for and approved the annexation of a parcel at 1821 S. 12th St.;
♦ Approved a resolution eliminating parking on Division Way. The Lebanon Police Department informed the council that semi-trucks and large vehicles used the road for delivery and pickup at Wilco and businesses in the Lebanon Plaza. Vehicles on that portion of Division Way prevented prevents traffic flow for the street;
♦ Adopted a bill updating precinct numbers in the city’s three wards following recent redistricting;
♦ Heard Economic Development Catalyst Alysia Rodgers’ update on the Rural Economic Alliance (REAL), previously known as Mid-Valley Partners.
She offered the council a glimpse of a new website scheduled to go live at the end of the month for REAL municipalities to entice economic development in rural cities;
♦ Renewed a 10-year contract between the city and Comcast. Contract alterations include an end to some programs and Federal Communications Commission regulation changes;
♦ Renewed a five-year contract between the city and LightSpeed Network, which provides communication services;
♦ Tabled a decision, until next month, to adopt an ordinance changing the Trees & Trails Advisory Committee to Lebanon Parks, Trees & Trails Advisory Committee.
The city does not have such a committee and is currently undergoing major parks work, including development and improvements at Cheadle Lake Park.
The proposed ordinance includes giving the committee some parks responsibility, plus such committee membership changes as replacing two staff members with voting privilege with two park enthusiasts while allowing staff to remain in non-voting positions; clarifying that the council position was a non-voting liaison position; and requiring that all committee members reside in Lebanon.
The latter change in the membership rules elicited some discussion and ultimately led to a motion by Councilor Wayne Dykstra, then seconded by Councilor KJ Ullfers, to readdress the issue at the next meeting, set for Oct. 12.
Councilor Gamael Nassar said that a current committee member had recently moved to Sweet Home; however, he wanted her to retain her seat.
The council was given the option to either approve the ordinance as written, table the discussion or approve an amendment to the ordinance regarding residency rules. Nassar opposed the motion to table;
♦ Heard from Brewer that the city has closed on the purchase of a parcel of land east of Cheadle Lake Park;
♦ Heard public comment from three residents near the Lebanon Skate Park who expressed concern regarding some of its activities.
According to Anna Creole, police presence is required regularly to handle instances of fighting and vandalism. She also reported that families won’t take their children to the park because some parkgoers monopolize the equipment and use language that makes them feel unsafe.
“We are concerned,” she said. “I don’t want to see the skate park shut down because it’s a valuable resource for the city, for the families in Lebanon, and they do have a lot of outside groups that come in and use the park. It’s a nice facility and there’s been a lot of nice work that Mr. [Drew] Breise has tried hard to make it a nice place for skaters to skate.”
Police Chief Frank Stevenson shared their frustration and said that his department was discussing options to help. Both Stevenson and Steinhebel suggested forming a neighborhood watch or parks watch group;
♦ Heard public comment from a person identified only as Regina, who said she was happy to see progress on the clean-up of trash left behind by homeless individuals in response to her police calls, and she wanted to encourage others to report such incidents as well.
“In our parks and our public places, we just want to feel safe,” she said, “and we want to feel like we’re able to use the parks and we’re able to do the different things.”