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Bend councilors revive Juniper Ridge advisory panel


It was another jam-packed agenda for the final Bend City Council meeting of the year, and one of the many topics discussed was the future of the Juniper Ridge development.

Councilors approved a revival of an advisory board for the city-owned property, which stalled when the economic downturn hit a decade ago.

This was a board that was once in place back in 2008, but with the recession and lack of economic development at the time, the board was shut down.

Now with a new plan in place to develop Juniper Ridge the council is bringing back that board.

City Business Advocate Ben Hemson said the hope now is to start getting investors to develop the property.

“Developing a vision for council to approve on what does development at Juniper Ridge look like going forward?” Hemson said. “And then the final step is really marrying those two points together, so we can come up with a plan that will take the prior work that has been done, so we can distill it down, so we can talk to developers and help them decide if investing in Juniper Ridge is a good choice for them.”

The board will be made up of seven members who are knowledgeable in real estate, finance, industrial land development, economic development and business.

The board will also include a member from the Boyd Acres Neighborhood Association, as it’s one of the closest neighborhoods to the development. That was an addition councilors made Wednesday night, wanting the neighbors’ voice to be heard

The council also approved an initial contract to finalize plans for the Murphy Road extension, a big step toward Phase 1 of the $32 million project.

The idea is to allow better accessibility for the southeast side of town by connecting Brosterhous Road with 15th Street and an overpass over the railroad tracks. Departing Mayor Casey Roats said that will prove helpful for those who frequently get stuck by trains at the Reed Market Road crossing.

This project would include the railroad overpass and roundabouts at Brosterhous and at 15th Street.

If everything goes smoothly, the project will start in the fall of next year, and the hope is to have the project completed by 2021.

On another familiar, hot topic, the council heard an appeal by Crow’s Feet Commons downtown of City Manager Eric King’s denial of noise variances for some music events. He approved just one, because it didn’t conflict with any events at the Tower Theatre next door.

The business had asked to be able to host events in the plaza next to Crow’s Feet Commons at up to 85 decibels, 15 decibels more than the business zone typically allows.

After hearing from appeal from business owner David Marchi and event manager Dan Baumann, the council went through a series of proposed motions and eventually upheld King’s decision, in a 5-2 vote, with councilors Barb Campbell and Nathan Boddie opposed. They had sought to allow the louder music.

Marchi and Buamann said they had been trying to work with neighbors on picking the proper time to host thee events. The main event in question is the Subaru WinterFest, set for March 15-16, but a motion to allow which is scheduled to be on March 15 and 16.

Councilors did comment that this was a tough decision to uphold because of the positive impacts these types of events can have on businesses and the community.

The event organizers said that like this year’s concert, they plan to orient the stage away from the theater and toward Mirror Pond, as they hope to bring the community together and also be welcoming to tourists. They also noted the concerts are free, funded by community sponsors.

Better soundproofing for the theater’s back wall would be spendy, Councilor (and soon, mayor) Sally Russell said, though Campbell said a much cheaper soundproofing of the back doors could help.

Marchi and Baumann said while the coming year’s concerts are set, too many limitations such as on sound levels could mean trouble trying to book major acts in the future.

Councilors had held a closed-door executive session at the start of the evening to review City Manager Eric King’s performance. Toward the end of the night, Roats read a statement from the council, saying the city “is well served and fortunate” to have King as city manager and praising his “tone and tenor of accountability” and “willingness to innovate,” among other things.

Councilors voted to give King a 5 percent raise, and it passed 6-1, with Councilor Bill Moseley opposed. He also was the lone no vote against formally accepting the statement Roats had read.

Being the last meeting of the year and the last before significant council turnover, a typical end-of-night agenda item – “council action and reports” – was filled with salutes from councilors to Roats and even Boddie, despite the controversial last several months of his term.

Campbell appeared to choke up as she, among others, praised Boddie for his passion on issues such as climate change and housing.

Councilor Justin Livingston told Boddie, “It’s been interesting serving with you, as I anticipated.” He later added, “We actually have agreed more than expected.” And he said Roats’ departure was the “end of an era,” as voters agreed to change from a mayor chosen by fellow councilors, in place for decades, to a system with a directly elected mayor.

Boddie, who has missed some meetings in recent months but was heavily involved Wednesday night, simply said: “No need to be verbose. I’ll just say it’s been an honor serving and representing the citzens of Bend. It’s been good, thank you.”

Councilor Bruce Abernethy said he’d admired Boddie’s “passion on so many issues,” including “significant progress” on needed housing.

But when Moseley’s turn to speak came, he told his colleagues and the audience: “I have no report.”

Russell also praised Boddie for leadership on issues like formally declaring Bend a “welcoming city” to all, and the adoption of a climate action plan.

“Though we didn’t always see eye to eye, I respect the values you hold, and share some of those values,” Russell said, also thanking Casey for his service and agreeing with colleagues that he’d “become more of a statesman” while also going public with some mental health issues earlier this year.

Roats said he’d enjoyed being mayor “very much. I thought I was invincible two years ago. Now I have no questions about my mortality.” And he thanked city councilors and staff, his water company’s co-workers and his family for their support.

King closed the night by noting that eight people had applied so far for Russell’s council seat, to be filled by appointment. The deadline to file is Jan. 4.

Earlier, councilors agreed to send a letter to Oregon’s congressional delegation in support of a proposal to name the Bend VA Outpatient Clinic in honor of Bend resident and Medal of Honor Recipient Bob Maxwell.

They also are backing proposed legislation labeled “Kaylee’s Law,” aimed at making sure campus safety officers cannot be in similar uniforms and cars to police officers, a situation that came to light in the wake of Kaylee Sawyer’s murder by a COCC security officer.

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