City to consider business access


Dec. 20 special council meeting

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Accesses, such as the three on Fourth Street to NAPA Auto Parts, Hometown Grounds and Ding Ho Restaurant, will be consolidated under ODOT's access management plan.Highway realignment, a new grass runway at the airport, and financial review of the city were the main topics for the Madras City Council at its Dec. 10 meeting.

Mike Darling, project leader for the Oregon Department of Transportation, presented the revised access management strategy for properties affected by the U.S. Highway 97 and J Street realignment at the south Madras Y.

"We've really worked hard with property owners," said Darling, noting that ODOT has gone through an extensive outreach process with property owners for the past several years.

Under the plans for the project, northbound U.S. Highway 97 will veer to the east at L Street, and join up with South Adams Drive, which becomes one-way northbound from that point. The project addresses congestion on J Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, by widening that stretch of road to the width of other city blocks.

"We're getting closer and closer to final design," said Jeff Hurd, Madras Public Works director, who expects the project to go to bid in August.

Discussion of the project, which will eventually affect businesses and properties along Highway 97 and Fourth and Fifth streets from M Street to Buff Street, was added to the agenda last Tuesday evening.

Councilor Walt Chamberlain asked if property owners had been directly notified of the meeting, since it wasn't on the published agenda?

Darling pointed out that it was just an update of the access management strategy, with modifications to minimize conflict with property owners, so no notifications had been made.

Councilors Jim Leach, Tom Brown and Royce Embanks expressed a desire to notify property owners and have another meeting to ensure that property owners have a chance to offer input. As a result, the council will hold a special meeting at noon on Friday, Dec. 20, to go over the plan updates.

A written request from the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum to build and maintain a grass runway at the Madras Municipal Airport — at their own expense was greeted with enthusiasm from councilors.

Brown said that he has talked to pilots with older planes who are very excited about the prospect of a grass runway.

"This will make it better for them to come here," he said. "Landing on a grass runway, those tires last 10 times longer. I think it's a great idea."

"It increases our ability to handle different aircraft and makes the airport more viable," said Embanks.

The council unanimously authorized City Administrator Gus Burril and attorney Jeremy Green to proceed with negotiations.

City councilors discussed the process for quarterly review of the city administrator, which Leach said, "seems excessive to me."

Embanks said that the quarterly review process was put into place years ago when the city had managers that needed regular review.

"I think it's important for you to have something presented to you on a quarterly basis," said Burril.

The council decided to finish the year with the quarterly reviews, and then reconsider the process.