Saturday, October 29, 2016

Eleven Years, Really?

                                      

In an October 2016 article in the Creswell Chronicle, Mayor Stram was quoted as saying, "The goal is for the Creswell Airport to be recognized as the best choice for general aviation in the State of Oregon by the year 2027." We can only hope that was a typo.  Eleven years for something that could be accomplished in one to two years?

How many reports or surveys must the city pay for to see where the problems are?  First and foremost, there is an ongoing conflict of interest with the airport manager and her husband having a maintenance business on the airport.  It's discouraging, to say the least, for those wanting to come here and compete with her husband.

Then of course there is the way being used for those who would like to come to the Creswell Airport and build a hangar and go into business.  When you build your hangar, you must "donate" it to the city.  In turn, you get a twenty year lease, with two ten year options.  Why would anyone want to build an expensive hangar and put it in danger of being taken if you have a bit of bad luck and miss your land lease payments?  It's no secret in the aviation community, that’s exactly what happened to Dave Wright who placed his dream of going into the skydiving business with the City of Creswell and built a beautiful $160,000 hangar.  For reasons that are still in question, skydiving was stopped and put the skydivers out of business on the airport.  Eugene Skydivers found a farmer's field to land on, but Dave Wright was not that lucky.  Owing, a little over $1,500, a previous city administration canceled his lease and confiscated his hangar.  The city is now renting out that hangar and keeping all the proceeds.  While the new city administration could re-instate the lease to the Wright family, they don't seem willing to do so.    
There is a lot more to this story, but the bottom line is this.  Dave lost his life's savings that was in the hangar, and is no longer living, which is related to the taking of his hangar.

There is no question, the Creswell Airport could be one of the finest general aviation airports in Oregon.  That of course depends on how it's managed.  There is talk of installing a $500,000 septic system thinking that will attract new business.  Aside from having to "donate" your hangar, there are other limitations with the airport.  A business would be limited to the type of aircraft due to the 3,000 foot runway.
   If this airport would work on being a true general aviation airport and not expect large businesses to come here, that would be a good start.  It needs to be the kind of airport where pilots would like to fly to and be with other pilots who enjoy each others company.

A nice building with bathrooms, shower and an area for a refrigerator would be a real plus.  A septic system for this bathroom would cost a great deal less than the $500,000 one they are talking about.  This bathroom could be used by airport tenets as well.   There could also be a BBQ area with tables close by.

There could be a nice grass area for planes to park, tie-down and allow pilots to "sleep under their wings".  Of course, they could also stay at the local motels and eat at the local restaurants.

Another area of interest could be the pilot golfer groups that like to fly to different golf courses.  At one time, there were plans to have a cart path to the Emerald Valley Golf course.  That should be considered again.  The pilots could park and load their clubs on a cart and be on their way.    
These ideas and improvements would take a lot less than eleven years to accomplish.  It's practical and realistic considering our 3,000 foot runway, and the Eugene Airport being more desirable for larger businesses.

Yes, the Creswell Airport could be one of the premium airports in Oregon.  Let's make it happen.       

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

                                   Budget         Creswell Policing    


On Page 41 of the budget, under the category Materials & Services is a line item called “Contractual Serv Police Prot”.  The budgeted amount for this fiscal year (2016-2017) is $657,105.  This contracted amount for police protection provides 3 deputies and a half-time Sergeant.  This does not include the $6.00 public safety fee.   
It's our understanding the council wants to increase police protection and is leaning towards option D of the four choices before them.  This option if put on the ballet would require $1.85 per $1,000 of assessed value of Creswell homes.  The average Creswell home is assessed at $184,000.  There are approx 1984 homes in Creswell.  That would be $340.00 per household and would raise $675,353.  The number of homes could vary slightly.  That would be a total of  $1,332,485. per year for police protection.

While improved police protection might be needed, there is a good chance this measure may be voted down and we would be back to square one. 

We would like to suggest that it be considered to include the entire 97426 zip code.  There would be an additional 1,801 homes to share this additional cost.  We could then divide the $675,353 by 3,785 (total homes in 97426) making it $178.00 per year each.  This would be more likely to be accepted.

While this does increase the area to be protected, most of these homes are very close to the city itself.  For example, Dale Kuni, Deberry, Walnut Lane, and Melton just to mention a few.

I would suggest the city attorney draft the ballet measure to include the additional 1,801 homes and cover the entire 97426 zip code.

In-fact, it appears county commissioner Faye Stewart is working on such a "district".  Evidently, it takes more than just putting it on the ballet if it's being done by the city.


  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Creswell The Forbidden City?


Dear Editor,  
 It's a beautiful sign, Creswell, "The Friendly City".  Maybe it should say Creswell "The Forbidden City"?  After buying property zoned for airport use, we were Forbidden to have access to the airport for what would have been a beautiful six cabin Fly-in Bed and Breakfast.  Something the city and airport would have been proud of.  Later, we were Forbidden to allow a pilot from Cottage Grove to park his plane in our hangar while the Cottage Grove Airport was being re-paved.  "It might set a precedent" was the pathetic answer we were given.  Just recently, we were Forbidden to have a Fly-in for pilots from Creswell, Eugene, Cottage Grove and other airports.  Just like the seven or eight we've had in the past.  We were told by the airport manager, " While we would love to accommodate this request, we have been advised by the City’s Attorney that we will not legally be able to do so."  That's interesting, the city has a new ordinance 490 saying it's ok for a salesperson to come onto your private property between 9 am. & 8 pm. even if you have signs posted "No solicitors, no trespassing."  According to City Attorney, Ross Williamson, it is their first amendment right.  I guess my wife and I don't have the same first amendment right to invite people to our property?  When I tried to find out exactly why we could not legally have the Fly-in from Mr. Williamson, he was evidently Forbidden to answer this question.  Instead, he sent my e-mail to the City Administrator.  An e-mail that had some personal input.  Shouldn't a citizen have the right to know exactly what law is not allowing him to do something?  The interesting part is that the law firm Mr. Williamson works for, has the slogan, "Offering Options, not Obstacles." So much for slogans, "The Friendly City" with a law firm that is "Offering Options, not Obstacles."  How nice if those were only true.

If anything should have been forbidden, it should have been forbidden for a past administration to build an excessive water treatment system that could support a population of over 20,000.  Especially when LCOG's  report on Creswell's growth, estimated a population of 12,500 by the year 2035.  That along with a massive city hall, one of the largest in the State with our present and estimated population.  Someone had big plans.  It's these excessive past and present spending extremes that is causing what were once good friends to choose sides and say terrible things about each other on a water issue that should not have come to this point.  What these previously good friends are so cleverly saying about each other, is not the image of a Friendly City, and like so many other things in Creswell, should be Forbidden.
Sincerely,Jerry Norcia


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A BAD CITY DECISION?

  

Just say NO.  This is not Nancy Reagan's answer to the drug problem, it's the answer you get from the "Friendly City" when you try to do something nice for local pilots.  First, we were not allowed to let a Cottage Grove pilot, Mike Mann, park his plane in our hangar when the Cottage Grove Airport was being repaved.  It might have set a legal precedent was their pathetic answer.  The only precedent it would have set, is that Creswell Airport is a "Friendly Airport" that is willing to help other pilots.  And now, because I lost my medical and no longer fly or pay the $22.00 per month for airport access, we are not allowed to have a fly-in like the many others we've had in the past.  Local pilots from Cottage Grove, Eugene, Independence and a few others, have enjoyed coming to Creswell, parking on our lawn and meeting with other local pilots and their families.  There is always a nice lunch during this get-together. We have also had city councilors who have attended and enjoyed a plane ride and meeting with the pilots.  There is no excuse for saying no to this request.  There is nothing legally different, other than we are not paying the $22.00 per month.  I can say, there will be around fifty people who will be disappointed this years fly-in is not being allowed.  This decision will only enforce the negative impression so many have regarding our airport and management.
Creswell, "The Friendly City"  
I ask, can anyone think of a reason this should not be allowed?  A number of these special friends have since passed on.  Why would a city stop friends from enjoying each other's company? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX7I8zZUXu4   

Thanks for all the support we have gotten.

Jerry Norcia  



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Open Letter To Mayor Stram

Dear Mayor Stram,

Thank you for your e-mail explaining you are going to look into the policy of deeding hangars to the city and also the history of the Dave Wright/City situation. 

I hope you don't mind me sharing some thoughts regarding both situations.  About building hangars and "donating" them to the city, Barb and I are familiar with this as we built one row of hangars and were partners in a second row.  We knew upfront, after building hangars that we would be donating them to the city.  There are other airports that do the same.  Personally, I don't have a problem with this.  It's a good thing for the city as they are exempt from property tax.  The city then charges what's called "In lieu" of taxes to those having hangars.  This is more income for the city and of course, should increase the airport budget.  At other airports like Eugene and Cottage Grove, to mention just a couple, they pay property tax to the county.

As you will find, those who built and donated hangars to the city, will receive a twenty year lease with two ten year options.  While they may say they own a hangar or are selling a hangar, they are in reality selling their lease.  People will still say, this is my hangar, just a figure of speech.

About the Wright hangar situation.  First, let me say, I have been raised to have a special respect and faith in teachers, priest, ministers, police and a few others.  During my life time, it's these people who have given meaning to my life.  I feel the same to this day at age 77.  With that said, I have to admit, as a minister, I expect the same from you.

Sadly, I have to believe you will find what Mark Shrives and the airport manager did, will most likely be considered legal by our city attorney and court system.  I would like to believe, however, because who you are and what you've been for some thirty years, you will find it was morally wrong.  The bottom line is this, $160,000 value was taken because of a little over $1,300 was owed to the city.  This, after the city put them out of business.  To make matters worse, Dave Wright has since passed away.

I have to believe, with your leadership and faith, with the help of our city attorney's suggestions and the support of our city administrator and council, this moral shame that was perpetrated by a past administration can be corrected.   

Sincerely,
Jerry Norcia   

As it's turned out, Colin Powell said best why I no longer attend council meetings, or attempt to be involved in local politics.

"Leadership is solving problems. The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guest Editorial

                                          By Jerry Norcia

 

I can’t help but wonder what I would do if tasked with making our City better.  Some of the decisions of  past city administrations, whether well conceived or not, have left us with situations that we must live with.  Specifically, in hindsight, did Creswell need a massive city hall, or a water treatment plant that would support a city of 25,000, five times our actual population.  A right-sized city hall and water treatment plant obviously would have cost a great deal less.  Additionally, users keep paying for the water treatment plant through higher water rates.

 

So, what can be done after the fact?  I suggest we learn from our mistakes and cut costs now and invest more prudently going forward.  We should be investing in ways that encourage businesses to come to Creswell.  Here are 4 ways:

 

1) Greatly reduce our exceptionally burdensome City Development Code.  This obviously adds troublesome hurdles and costs to potential business owners and is a disincentive to invest here.

2) Make our airport a money making proposition for our city and businesses.  We should change the policies and attitudes that are preventing potential business owners from investing in airport related businesses.  It seems there is talk of bringing water and sewer to the airport.  Doing this could cost millions of dollars.  Wouldn’t a well and septic system do just fine for that size area for a fraction of the cost? 

3) Invest in keeping up with ODOT transportation requirements.

4) If small business is the backbone of our country, why not give new small businesses some kind of a tax break for a period of time?  This is routinely done in Enterprise Zones throughout the country for large companies, why not the little guy?  

 

In looking around Creswell, you can see people struggling to make a living along with the many empty store fronts in downtown and near the old Ray's area.  Why not entice people to come here to go into business, since businesses hire employees, who then spend money in other businesses in town?

 

Perhaps we should look for and elect people with business experience to run Creswell.  Business minded people know what would make Creswell attractive for investment.  Also, if we had people with business experience running the city, we wouldn't need to continue hiring "consultants" to help us decide things.  We hired a consultant to compare how other Oregon airports are being managed and how they make money.  Nothing was done with the findings.  Previously we hired a consultant to decide if skydiving was safe at the airport.  The consultant chosen had no skydiving experience nor airport experience, and was only hired for political reasons in any case.  After hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, AND a $50,000 settlement, the skydivers are back on the airport. 

 

It appears now that the city is going to pay for yet another consultant to decide for us if we would be better off having our own police department or to continue to pay the sheriff's department for our protection.  You would think that our own business minded people have the ability to look into costs and other considerations without hiring an outsider.  In fact, we have already had several people do research on this idea. Why not let our own people make decisions?  Once again, the bottom line is this, we need to cut costs where we can and invest where there are huge payoffs.  Consultants are too often a political tool, whose advice is less valid than our own.

 

As far as cutting costs, Creswell for Affordable Water is focused on that.  While it may appear that the idea of putting it on the ballot is to give the people a vote on whether or not to make needed repairs to the water supply system, that is not the primary reason.  It is intended to make our city leaders look for ways to cut costs FIRST before asking the citizens for more money than the amount allowed by the increasing CPI.  It would keep the voters involved and aware when the city takes the easy route by charging users more money and not looking for other ways to save that money. 

 

Our councilors are very nice and dedicated people.  Let’s encourage them to get serious about cutting cost, helping existing businesses, and providing an environment that attracts new businesses.  We would all benefit.  Creswell has great potential, let's not waste it.

 

I would like to end with a quote from Colin Powell,

"Leadership is solving problems. The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."

 

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making it Wright



"Making it Wright" is a documentary by Paul Bright, of Paul Bright Films.  The outcome is not something we expected.  This Mayor and council have the ability to correct this wrong by a previous administration and do not seem interested.  It's difficult to believe that any administration would accept and live with knowing this man owed the city a little over $1,000, and they revoked his lease, in essence taking his hangar and business.  A value of over $160,000.  The reason we didn't expect this outcome is that our Mayor was a minister for some thirty years.  Wouldn't you expect him to be the moral leader and convince his council to "Make it Wright"?