School zone designated on Reeves Parkway designated

By Sean C. Morgan

Lebanon Local

The Lebanon City Council on Nov. 13 approved a resolution establishing a school zone on Reeves Parkway around 5th Street, an area the Lebanon School Board determined last month was hazardous for students walking to school.

Under state law, the students living within a mile of their school must walk. The School Board action identified the area as a hazardous student walking zone, which allows the school district to bus them.

Over the past year, the city Police Department and Public Works have received complaints about speeding and unsafe crossing conditions on Reeves Parkway near 5th Street, said Ron Whitlach, engineering services director and acting city manager. The complaints mostly pertained to motorists not stopping for children crossing the parkway on their way to Pioneer School.

In January, city staff conducted a traffic count and speed study on the parkway to determine if the posted speed, 40 mph, is appropriate, Whitlach said. The study found that 85 percent of the traffic in both directions traveled between 39 mph and 46 mph, suggesting the speed limit is accurate.

The study showed traffic volume ranged from 300 to 600 vehicles per day, he said, and 20 students cross at the intersection. The study found no documented accidents.

The city received additional complaints beginning this fall, he said, and the Police Department has spent an abundance of time providing extra patrols in the area, monitoring the crossing and contacting local businesses to educate motorists about the school crossing issue and posted speed limit.

THIS MAP shows the location of the new school zone that will be implemented on Reeves Parkway.
Graphic courtesy of City of Lebanon

Staff believe two criteria should trigger the creation of a school zone, Whitlach said, the number of students crossing and posted speed limit.

Additionally, the area will continue to develop, likely increasing the number of children crossing the parkway to reach Pioneer School, he said.

The school zone will use flashing lights to indicate when it is in effect, he said.

Another option would be a pedestrian crossing with a button and flashing lights, Whitlach said, but that presents some issues. I would include a turn lane, which would mean the city would need to remove the “turning movement because you can’t have that conflict. You end up building a pedestrian island out there.”

That’s why city staff proposed a school zone, he said.

“This may be a better approach just to get motorists to slow down. It’s likely at some point that this intersection could even see a traffic signal or maybe controlled at an all-way stop.”

The presumed cost will be between $12,000 to $16,000, Whitlach said. The city will draw the money from its street funding.

The council voted unanimously to approve the school zone.

On a related note, Councilor Rebecca Grizzle asked Whitlach what the city could do about the intersection of Reeves Parkway and Highway 20, noting that it also has more and more pedestrian traffic.

She said she has received complaints that it is dark.

Whitlach said the city could probably get street lighting, which would fall under state jurisdiction; and it’s likely to be signalized at some point, with as much development as there is in the area.

Present at the meeting were councilors Wayne Rieskamp, Grizzle, Michelle Steinhebel, Jason Bolen, Karin Stauder and Robert Furlow. Mayor Paul Aziz was absent.

In other business, the council:

• Approved an ordinance regulating food truck pods.

Community Development Director Kelly Hart said Lebanon has two developers who have indicated interest in opening food truck pods.

The ordinance defines food truck pods as two or more food trucks. They will be required to have a designated walkway for pedestrians and a path of travel for food trucks. The trucks may not block pedestrian walkways, public rights-of-way or emergency vehicle access.

They must have a minimum setback of 5 feet from the property line or follow setback requirements for their zone. They must provide space for ordering and lines on private property. Trucks must be separated by at least 6 feet.

Food truck pods that provide customer seating must have a rest-room available on site or within 132 feet of the property. Waste receptacles and some equipment must be screened from public view.

The trucks must be kept in good repair and clean, with awnings of at least 7 feet for safe pedestrian circulation. Lighting is required if the food truck pods operate during hours of darkness. They also may connect to utilities.

Prior to the ordinance, food trucks were only allowed to connect to electricity, Hart said.

Food truck pods must have at least two parking spaces for each truck except in the downtown area, which does not require businesses to have off-street parking.

The ordinance allows food trucks in the central business and highway commercial zones with an administrative review. Based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation, it also allows them in industrial and mixed use zones with a conditional use permit.

• Approved an ordinance amendment that allows the Planning Commission to be a minimum of five and a maximum of nine members and changes the quorum requirement from five members to a majority of members. Under the previous ordinance, the Planning Commission required seven regular positions and two alternate positions.

Hart told the council that the city has had difficulty getting an enough applicants to serve on the commission, which conducts public hearings on various types of development proposals and advises the City Council on land use planning policy.

• Approved an ordinance listing a Friends of the Library representative as a non-voting member of the Library Committee and incorporated a residency requirement for voting members.

• Approved a resolution to enter an intergovernmental agreement with the other seven cities partnered with Lebanon in the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, RAIN, to work together to “build an ecosystem around entrepreneurship and to continue to work with RAIN to further these efforts,” said Economic Development Catalyst Alysia Rodgers.

“As progress has been made, the eight cities continued to look for other creative ways to represent rural cities in Linn and Benton counties in economic development on a regional level.”

The main goals of the group are to establish a rural-focused primary point of contact to collaborate with existing services and organizations to align, focus and leverage resources; to connect new entrepreneurs with learning opportunities and start-up support; to help link existing and potential employers with a skilled and trained workforce; and to advocate for rural communities and the goals of the partnership for improved market conditions and for improved legislative and regulatory policies and programs.

Lebanon would benefit from regional connections, coordination and advocacy at the county and state level, Rodger said. The next step for the group is to define a scope of work and staffing needs to carry out the plan, develop a financial plan for ongoing operations and submit requests for each city’s budget.

Partners in the agreement are Lebanon, Sweet Home, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Monroe, Adair Village and Philomath.