Sunday, July 29, 2018

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.  If that were not bad enough, after the lease is up, the city will take over your hangar.  You will have nothing to leave your kids.  Not a good investment.  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 with some major changes. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Killingsworth Property Controversy Heats Up

Eight neighbors recently signed their names to a concerned letter to City Hall regarding the unkempt property on Killingsworth Avenue, a property with abatement issues dating clear back to 2010.

The property in question the 815 Killingsworth Ave. and is occupied by Randy Mogstad. According to the letter issued June 11 his neighbors are upset by the clutter in the front yard, such as “three vehicles in the front yard that do not run… old bikes and junk.”

Creswell Mayor Dave Stram responded in a letter, stating, “I understand the appearance of the yard and the multiple vehicles parked there has been a disappointment to you for a number of years...The situation on Killingsworth is a continuing problem.”

Complaint documentation states that an old code abatement on this property was first completed in 2010 by previous Code Enforcement Officer Lissa Davis.

Since then, the property’s been subject to several other complaints from 2014 to present day, with many being filed by one of Mogstad’s neighbors, Ruby Miller.

City Code Enforcement Officer Shelley Humble said that in 2014, a lengthy conversation occurred between the City and the Mogstads to try and remedy the issue.

Then, the property became a subject of the 2016 Hope Restored Project, where volunteers helped clean up and restore the home over a two-day period, during which time medium-sized rocks were filled in the front and backyard to help prevent clutter.

Neighbors and concerned citizens, like Richard Heyman — who has also written columns in The Chronicle regarding this property — lamented that it didn’t take the property long after the restoration was completed in 2016 to become an eyesore again.

“The property was cleaned up two years ago, but didn’t take long until the rules were violated,” Heyman said during public comment at this week’s city council meeting. He said if there were to be a fire at the residence, firefighters would be hard-pressed to even get into the backyard or around the vehicles.

“I saw the property before Hope Restored; there is a common sense standard that is not being met here,” Councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. said.

With this ongoing issue, neighbors say it’s up to the City to enforce their codes, and that the City needs to place guidelines on how this property should be kept.

“The yard has to be cleaned up and either you give the owners a fine, or you ensure they clean up their yard,” the letter states. “If you choose to allow the owners to clean up their yard the code enforcement department needs to follow up to ensure the yard is dealt with.”

But Humble said at the council meeting that, “There was no violation that I could find the last several times I went there. At this point I don’t see any violations. It is a house that has three adults and four kids, lots of toys and recreation vehicles.”

Humble said that the Mogstads have several vehicles on their property, including sandrails, but they all run and are drivable. She noted that many bikes are not made with kickstands anymore, and that bikes are on the ground in the yard, but are operable. They also have several vehicles on the road, but the Mogstads move them in accordance to the ordinance.

“There’s no trash lying around; the garbage is in receptacles,” Humble said, noting that when she inspects a site, she’s also looking for safety issues, like attractive nuisances to kids like refrigerators or boxes — things they could climb on and get hurt.

“It’s a busy yard,” Humble said. “But anytime there’s an issue I go and it is cleaned up.”

Resident Kathy January, Creswell’s cat advocate, also said during public comment that she’s concerned for the cats on the Mogstad property, and has discussed this with the Mogstads before, advocating to spay and neuter their animals.

The letter goes on to say that Humble has given Mogstad instructions regarding the codes and addressed utility trailers sitting on the street in front of the residence.

“As soon as (Humble) leaves the utility trailer is parked back on the street,” the letter states.

Stram stated that Humble has been actively involved with the family and, “Has paid many visits to the home. With each visit, the residents cooperate and address the concerns brought to their attention. Soon after, the situation returns to its former state.”

Humble said that this particular property is garnering much attention, but there are lots more like it in town that are in even worse shape.
“There are several houses around the same neighborhood that I would say are worse than this one,” Humble said. “We don't get to choose for everyone how they get to live; that's why we live in the USA.”

Humble said she can’t ask the Mogstads to adhere to a different code standard than the rest of the residents in town.

“It might be difficult to meet the expectations that the community sets,” McReynolds said. “But it concerns me that we have a cycle where this is continued, where someone complains and someone is brought into the same situation.”

The City feels like it is at a loss of what to do, and council stressed that they can’t keep dumping city resources into this one property, as Humble only works 10 hours a week as the City’s code enforcement officer. She also serves as the Hobby Field airport manager.

“We need to find a way to get this issue resolved,” Humble said. “There’s polarization between the two parties with the habitual complaining.”

City Administrator Michelle Amberg said that the City has had other neighbors with similar issues in the past and mediation between the two parties worked.

“I think mediation will work; you can’t keep screaming the sky is falling when its not and utilizing the city resources,” Humble said. “We’re in a fine line right now. That’s our next try, to see if (mediation) would work (between Ruby Miller and Randy Mogstad.)”

Municipal Judge R. Scott Palmer “would do the mediation, having them sign an agreement,” Amberg said, noting that at first, the mediation can be a little rocky, but in the end it makes for better neighbors.

“Why wasn't this mediation started years ago?” Councilor Amy Knudsen asked, noting that these complaints have been coming in for years. Amberg said that there wasn’t a system in place until the code enforcement policy at the time, and that the most recent code enforcement policy lays out how mediation works.

“We have spent a great deal of staff time and money to deal on this one house, so let’s see if we can seek a resolution with (mediation),” Council President Richard Zettervall said. “It's bad enough that our society is becoming polarized over this… it’s really challenging to see neighbors being polarized.”

Printed with the permission of Scott Olson and Erin Tierney of the Creswell Chronicle.  Thank you for this permission.  

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?

Click ===> HERE for video.

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."

—Colin Powell

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."