City council to decide fate of historic house in September
The future of a home on a local historic registry will be heard by the Hillsboro City Council.
The council acknowledged the appeals of longtime Hillsboro resident Lou James and four other concerned residents at the Thursday, Aug. 3 council meeting. The group wants the city to honor its historic legacy and keep the Emmott House intact.
Built in 1947 just after WWII, the house is identified as a cultural resource by the city. An appeal hearing is set for Sept. 5., and the council will review the Planning Commission's original decision to grant demolition approval on the historic home before hearing the appeals.
A developer hopes to subdivide the lot and construct several homes.
James has lived across from the home on SE 26th Avenue since the 70s, and knew the family who constructed the uncommon log house, using half-logs with rounded sides.
"The house has been sitting all summer," said James. "They're just letting it deteriorate further."
The house has been on the market with a for sale sign out front, but she said she's seen little attempt to sell. James and the other applicants believe the property does not meet the criteria for the demolition or removal of a cultural resource and will make their cases at the September hearing.
The council also approved a $35,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the design and engineering of improvements at Walnut Street Park. The amount does not cover the whole cost of improvements, which will take another $305,000 in CDBG funds.
In 2011, the city used $175,000 in CDBG funding for improvements. However, park project specialists said the park's usage has increased since the first round of renovations and needs have changed.
Handicapped individuals hoping to safely spend leisure time at the Walnut Street Park face accessibility issues, according to a city staff report. The park is not up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, things like raising the heights of 11 benches and placing visible warning strips at the curb ramps. The proposed improvements would add a permanent restroom instead of the often-vandalized port-o-potties, according to the report, as well as replace a deteriorating gazebo, build a path between playgrounds, add a shade structure at the splash pad and add a picnic shelter.
The council approved modifications to the Reed's Crossing planned development, part of the larger South Hillsboro development. Over the next 10 to 15 years the city is planning for 8,000 new units bringing in more than 20,000 residents to live in the single-family, multifamily and attached single-family residences. It is the largest planned community in state history, according to the city.
State Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, expressed her gratitude to the city council and Mayor Steve Calloway for their support and organization of a two-day camp for kids experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in July. The city first put on Camp Eagle in the summer of 2016.
"It was incredible to see these students interacting with such fantastic and energetic staff," Sollman said. "I just wanted to tell you I'm sure you made a difference."
City Manager Michael Brown acknowledged several others at the meeting, including Sustainability Manager Peter Brandon — the city has reduced its energy usage 25 percent since 2009 as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge. The city has far surpassed its original goal to reduce electricity and gas use by 20 percent in city facilities by year 2020.
Brown recognized the outstanding efforts of the city's water department to keeping the city's water supply safe and flowing during both freezing winters and summer heat waves.
"As hot as it is now, as cold as it was then, it's important to know that they're out there serving the community," Brown said.