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Council approves purchase of armory

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The Lebanon City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 9, approved the purchase of the National Guard Armory building at 350 W. Maple St. and a parcel of land owned by the city of Albany north of River Park.
City Manager Nancy Brewer, Mayor Paul Aziz and councilors Wayne Dykstra, Gamael Nassar, Jeremy Salvage, Michelle Steinhebel and KJ Ullfers were present at the meeting. Councilor Wayne Rieskamp was absent.
The armory, to be acquired for $340,000 ($90,000 less than the asking price), will be used as an expansion for the city’s Public Works Department, Brewer said. The space will be used for offices as well as storage for large city vehicles, such as the street sweeper, to prevent winter freeze.

This image depicts a proposed trail at River Park that circles around newly-acquired land just north of River Park.

The three-acre vacant parcel of land abutting the north end of River Park is owned by Albany, which once used it for water intake from the Santiam River. It will be purchased for $65,000 (appraised at $70,000) and added to River Park, where Build Lebanon Trails will place a trail to connect its system through town.
“It’s a good acquisition for our parks system and adding more green space,” Brewer said.
Public Works Director Jason Williams explained the City has been saving money in its Equipment Property Acquisitions Fund to purchase the Armory, and money to purchase the Albany property will come from Parks SDCs.
Before adjourning the meeting, Nassar read from a prepared statement to address his stance on proclamations, which he would have reinstated had he been elected mayor in the Nov. 8 midterms. (He lost to Kenneth E. Jackola, a log truck driver, building renovator and retired command sergeant major. For more election news, see page 1.)
“Even though we have been doing them rather unceremoniously, they belong to the community and especially of importance to the people or organization asking for it,” he said. “It seems to make more sense that proclamations should not be distributed at the sole discretion of any one mayor.”
As such, Nassar requested an item for the next city council agenda to discuss whether to allow proclamations or resolutions to be requested by the people and decided by the council through a vote.
“This is the best way to allow the community to be a part of this and allow the community to hear how we feel about the item,” Nassar said.
Aziz and councilors Dysktra, Salvage, Steinhebel and Ullfers agreed that the discussion should be added to the January agenda after the newly elected mayor and council members took office.
“I just thought it should be brought up because one person makes the decision and it should be a conversation that happens openly, and it just makes sense to me that if we’re going to be transparent, and there’s nothing in the charter that says how this is going to be done,” Nassar said. “It was a contentious issue and part of that was because there was no conversation about it.”
His request focused on the fact that residents had approached the council in April with a request for a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, but Aziz declined to sign it and council did not engage in a dialogue with the community on the matter.
“I’m just talking about having conversations with the people, in front of the people, for the people.”

In other business, the council:
♦ Held a public hearing for and approved an annexation application for property off E. Grant Street and Berlin Road;
♦ Appointed Shyla Malloy to the Planning Commission;
♦ Authorized a favorable recommendation to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for a limited on-premises new outlet liquor license to the Kuhn Cinema;
♦ Heard a third-quarter update from the Lebanon Downtown Association;
♦ Held a public hearing for and authorized staff to apply for the 2023 Community Development Block Grant program from the Oregon Business Development Department, with Springfield firm DevNW as a sub-grantee. The program provides funding for public facilities and financial assistance to income-qualifying households for necessary home improvements.
Community Development Director Kelly Hart said the city has been a recipient of the grant for many years, providing assistance for such needs as weatherization, window replacement, heaters, roofing and gutters. Liza Newcomb of DevNW added that ADA remodels, asbestos and lead paint remediations, removal of tree hazards, electrical work, piping and floor replacing are also common uses for the money;
♦ Approved a non-exclusive franchise ordinance for IOT Fiber-Lebanon, LLC dba Santiam Fiber and a resolution allowing for fiber infrastructure in the city. Rick Peterson, of PEAK Internet, said construction is anticipated to start early next year with an estimated completion date of Oct. 2024;
♦ Approved the renewal of a franchise ordinance for NW Natural;
♦ Heard from resident Linda Earnest, a resident on 9th Street near Airport Road, who asked for help in identifying where water runoff from the new Applegate Landing development goes because, during the past three years, there was “quite a bit of flooding” in a nearby field.
“It’s standing water sometimes and it comes up to my property line and sometimes into my property,” she said. “It’s never happened before;”
♦ Heard a request from Laura LaRoque, of Udell Land Surveying, and David Gillott, property owner of a vehicle storage lot, for the city to consider municipal and development code amendments. Fencing and an on-site caretaker in an RV were put into place on the former Moose Lodge property due to security concerns, LaRoque said. The six-foot-fence had barbed wire, which violated the six-foot municipal limitation and required a building permit process. Municipal code also prohibited people from residing in RVs on the property after a given amount of time.
As such, LaRoque requested that the city consider amending the codes to allow exemptions for certain fencing structures that weren’t impacted by wind or a structural force, and to allow property caretakers to live in RVs where utilities are available. Mayor Paul Aziz said that city staff would look at the proposals and consider a recommendation to the council;
♦ Tabled a resolution authorizing Republic Services to increase its commercial and residential rates by 9%. In a letter to the city, Republic Services Municipal Relations Manager Julie Jackson cited rising fuel costs as the main basis for the increase. The company also added a 65-gallon trash bin to its services.
Jackson was unable to attend the meeting and, thus, unable to address questions and concerns the council had. Not too long ago, residents had reportedly complained about garbage drivers leaving trash bins on their sides and the firm’s lack of customer service. The council relayed those issues to Jackson, who said she’d look into them, which, according to Aziz, resulted in what appeared to be a temporary improvement in service.
“I’ve got some very deep concerns about raising the rates and lack of customer service, failure to get things picked up, lying about things being picked up when they weren’t,” Ullfers said. “This is common in the commercial side, and I would really like to talk to someone about that before I vote to approve something like this.”
He then explained a situation with the cardboard bin at the Lebanon Soup Kitchen, where he works. Republic Services had told him it would pick up the cardboard within 10 days, but he called 12 days later to inform the company that the problem was still there and growing. However, according to Republic, Ullfers continued, a driver had said it was picked up.
Nassar said that he, too, as a business owner, had similar problems with the garbage company, and Salvage said his street received no garbage service for two weeks last month.
Steinhebel asked about possible ramifications if the council denied the request to raise the rates. City Attorney Tré Kennedy said he would look at the city’s franchise agreement to see if there were options to challenge the amount or if opportunities existed to terminate the contract.