I lost a bet with my wife. I bet her that there would be more City of Troutdale staff than interested citizens who would attend our first neighborhood meeting about urban renewal.
24 interested citizens and half a dozen city staff and consultants showed up at Reynolds high school to discuss the pros and cons of Troutdales's proposed urban renewal district at the old sewer treatment plant. It was a good turnout for a rainy Thursday night.
The next meeting is tomorrow night at Troutdale Grade School, 7pm. You can read about the urban renewal proposal here.
I feel like I have accomplished a good thing by constantly insisting on public meetings and a public vote on the urban renewal question. There were many business and property owners, and one or two city councilors who felt we should just go ahead with the plan without any public input. I'm glad the majority of city councilors agreed to have this extended discussion with our citizens.
Some of the questions raised at the first meeting included whether or not Yoshida Group would get any special deals or tax abatements (answer- no. Every property owner pays their own costs, and will need to pay a proportionate share of improvements); whether Chelsea Group, owners of the outlet mall and Yoshida Group are in favor of the plan (answer: an enthusiastic yes from both), and how long will the urban renewal district be able to issue bonds (answer: 10 years).
No real vocal opposition was raised, although several people expressed concern that the tax increment financing might take money away from schools. This wasn't really answered fully, but Reynolds School District Superintendent Terry Kneisler indicated at a previous urban renewal ad hoc committee meeting that the effect would be negligible.
City staff needs to spell the details of this out more clearly. Even I'm not sure about the fine details regarding this project's effects on schools. Their official answer is, "no direct impact on K-12 schools because of state funding",but we all need to see specifically why this is so.
If you can't make any of the neighborhood meetings, e-mail me your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to post your comments about Troutdale's urban renewal proposal on this blog, you'll need to identify yourself. I'll delete any anonymous posts on this issue.