Downtown to get new paint job?

Benny Westcott

Thanks to local efforts, the Sweet Home downtown district may spring to renewed life in a revivifying paint job.

Sweet Home City Manager Kelcey Young told the Sweet Home City Council Tuesday, May 23, that the city was in conversations with an unnamed potential donor.

“If [property owners] want to participate in this, the idea is that it would be free paint all the way along downtown,” she said, adding that the sponsor also offered color consultation and national press.

She described it as “a very dynamic color palette for downtown. Something that really is vibrant and beautiful and also represents the Northwest Oregon color scheme.”

“I believe that there’s an incredible opportunity to change the history and the culture of our community with a really good coat of paint,” added Lisa Gourley, who’s also been working on the project with the ad hoc Committee on Arts and Culture. “This just doesn’t happen for communities like us, where somebody’s willing to invest in us like that. I’m just really excited to be right here at this time.”

Young said that the city is reaching out to various properties to compile a list of participants.

“So far it looks like we’re going to have a fair amount,” she said, adding that the city, which seeks volunteers for the project, has also heard from community members wanting to paint some of the houses along the downtown corridor.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Young said. “This is something that could really transform the way that our downtown Sweet Home presents itself and looks. And we’re hoping to have some additional partnerships with the property owners there on other ways to engage the public.”

Gourley called the project “an incredible opportunity for our businesses. Sweet Home has a long history of volunteerism. This is going to be an all-hands-on-deck experience. We’re going to need painting and pressure-washing, and the mayor [Susan Coleman] has asked for the alleyway [13th Avenue between Main and Long Streets] to be done in murals.”

Also at the meeting, the council:

n Gave an opinion on a City of Sweet Home event support grant program, which came together after city money for the Ice Box Cookoff National BBQ Competition was requested at the previous council meeting and various councilors lamented that there wasn’t a formal process to award city money for such events.

The proposed program outlined providing up to $10,000 for an event’s first year, $7,500 for the second and $5,000 for the third, with a total not to exceed $20,000 for any one event.

“Grants will be awarded for the purpose of generating increased visitation and economic impact for the city through the support of major events including but not limited to conferences, reunions, meetings, sporting events and tournaments, and complimentary festivals and events,” the document read. “The intent of this program is to help launch events with the idea that events will become self-sufficient as time goes on.”

Applicants would answer such questions as “How many visitors do you believe this will bring to Sweet Home?” and “How will this event improve the reputation of Sweet Home?” Those who reflect collaboration with multiple project partners would be highly desired.

Initiatives completed with event grant funds would have to acknowledge such financial support by including the City of Sweet Home logo on marketing materials, website landing pages and event signage and programs. It would also include the city’s landing page/ad on all registration websites and welcome packets.

President Pro Tem Greg Mahler requested that public attendance be required for an event to receive city funding, and that they be held on neutral grounds.

“If we’re giving taxpayer money to fund this, then we have to have the ability for the citizens to be able to attend that event each and every day,” he said. “If we’re trying to attract tourism to our community, we’ve got the event center, Quarry Park, community parks, school grounds – there’s a lot of areas in this town to make it neutral and accessible for everybody and showcase our town.”

Councilor Angelita Sanchez opposed some of Mahler’s points.

“Why would you require multiple days of complimentary admission to get some sort of grant?” she asked. “I don’t understand why one day of a three-day event is not sufficient.”

She added that the Icebox Cookoff has certain sponsored days open to the public because it’s sanctioned, and patrons must either be registered or paid members of certain affiliations to participate.

“I don’t like to see limitations,” she said.

Mahler suggested that applicants explain when an event wouldn’t be open to the public.

“If you’re using taxpayer funds, we have to explain to taxpayers why they can and cannot come to a specific function, because it’s their money,” he said.

Sanchez agreed that such a line item would be OK.

n Approved an increase in compensation from $75 to $150 a month for city councilors and $85 to $200 a month for the mayor. The resolution will take effect on June 16.

Sweet Home Budget Committee members Diane Gerson, Nancy White and Matthew Bechtel had recommended the change during a May 3 meeting in which they reviewed the current compensation, which, according to Young, hadn’t been increased since the 1970s.

That budget committee input meeting was open for public comment. According to the council-passed resolution, the committee’s recommendation was made “to acknowledge the many hours of service each councilor and the mayor provides to the city.”

— Approved a $59,500 contract with the North Plains-based Aaken Corporation for the procurement and installation of equipment to construct rectangular rapid-flashing beacons at the intersection of Highway 228 and 2nd Avenue, after the city applied for and received a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant in late 2020 for a pedestrian crossing and the beacons at the location.

The grant will fund 80% of the project, and the remaining 20% match may be tapped by additional Oregon Department of Transportation funds.

The project was delayed after ODOT began an ongoing American Disabilities Act ramp project throughout the city. Because the project’s contract work would be completed as part of that effort, city staff decided to wait until the new ramps at the intersection were finished before proceeding with the SRTS project.

— Approved the biannual renewal of the agreement between ODOT and the city for the Sweet Home Senior Center Dial-A-Bus services.

The ODOT Rail and Public Transit Division issues the Oregon Public Transit Grant through the city in order to receive money for the Dial-A-Bus program. The agreement stipulates the terms and conditions for the senior center to receive the transportation grant funds.

— Adopted the budget-committee-approved 2023-24 budget for $35,410,000. The council imposed taxes at the rate of $1.4157 per $1,000 of assessed value for general fund operations, $6.30 per $1,000 for the police local option levy, and $1.17 per $1,000 for the library services local option levy.

— Conducted first and second reads of an ordinance vacating the city’s right-of-way at a 500-foot unimproved, dead-end portion of Redwood Street, located north of Highway 20 and west of 53rd Avenue. A staff report noted that the street contained no public infrastructure, pavement, curbing, storm drainage or any other component of a typical right-of-way. The properties abutting this portion of Redwood currently use a private access easement off 53rd.

According to the report, topographical constraints would make the vacated portion expensive. A severe 15- to 30-foot grade difference on 53rd’s west side would require a large amount of fill and retaining walls, making street development cost-prohibitive.

— Approved the temporary closure of the city’s right-of-way in the parking lot east of 13th Avenue and west of the Rio Theatre for the Tune It Up Tuesdays events, scheduled from noon and 10:30 p.m. June 6, 13, 20 and 27.

— Approved a public-address permit for the Icebox Cookoff from noon to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, June 30 to July 2, at Radiator Supply House, 1460 47th Ave.

— Conducted first and second reads for an ordinance changing the city’s comprehensive plan map designation of 280 city-owned acres, the Sweet Home School District and the Sweet Home Fire District from the commercial central and highway, residential low-, medium- and high-density and mixed-use employment zones to the public facility zone.

First and second reads were also conducted for an ordinance changing the city’s zoning map designation of 425 city-owned acres and the school and fire districts from the commercial central and highway zone, recreation commercial zone, residential low-, medium- and high-density and mixed-use employment zones to the public facility zone.

— Conducted the first and second reads for an ordinance updating the adoption section of the Sweet Home Municipal Code to keep current with city procedures on the compilation of the code and updating wording to be reflected in other parts of the code to be consistent with the new zoning code.

— Approved a professional credit service contract for collection services primarily used for the Sweet Home Municipal Court.

— Approved a resolution declaring the city’s election to receive state revenues for the fiscal year 2023-24. The council also approved a resolution certifying that the city provides four or more services to receive the revenues.

— Approved a resolution certifying that the city complies with sections of Oregon Revised Statutes related to marijuana sales inside city limits.

— Voted to conduct the third and final read for an ordinance amending a portion of the city’s comprehensive plan and adopting a housing needs analysis completed through a grant from Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Among its findings:

— Sweet Home’s population is expected to grow at 0.69% per year over the next two decades, adding 1,571 new residents. This will require 632 new dwelling units over a 20-year period. The forecast housing mix is expected to consist of 460 single-family detached homes, 42 townhomes/plexes, 45 multifamily housing units and 85 manufactured housing units.

— Some 58% of Sweet Home households made 80% or less of Linn County’s median family income level ($51,600) in 2020.

— More than 1 in 4 renter households in the city are severely rent-burdened, with more than 50% of that income going toward monthly housing costs.

— Net new housing needs over the next 20 years will require 169 acres of buildable residential land. Currently, Sweet Home’s urban growth boundary includes 610 such acres across categories that allow for residential development. The housing needs analysis indicates that the current Sweet Home urban growth boundary is sufficient to accommodate future housing needs.

The ordinance adds 12 residential land-use policies to the city’s comprehensive plan on the analysis’ recommendation. These include a marketing campaign to increase awareness and participation in green-energy tax credit programs to help homeowners and renters upgrade their homes to become more energy-efficient.

They would also streamline the permitting process to reduce cost and delay of new housing units and use the Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer mapping tool to identify the wildland-urban interface and wildfire risk at the property ownership level.

— Voted unanimously to conduct the third and final read for an ordinance to change the zoning of a 5.18-acre property west of Clark Mill Road and allow for the planned construction of an apartment building complex with a large, residents-only fitness center.

Applicant Eric Lund’s proposed change alters the zoning from residential low (R-1) to high density (R-3), bringing the zoning into conformity with the property’s existing comprehensive plan map designation.