ReisnerGladstone City Councilor-elect Neal Reisner plans to use the momentum of his involvement with a political action committee to find another solution for the city’s library.

“This wasn’t all about just the library — it’s about making Gladstone better, more vibrant and more livable, and that’s why we’ve been attending work sessions on the City Hall building,” he said.

Reisner is part of the core group of a dozen most active members of Save Gladstone, which started out with people concerned about the $12.6 million proposed library. On Nov. 6, Reisner defeated Councilor Walt Fitch, who was appointed in April, by a 61 percent to 38 percent margin. A library measure on the same ballot, which Save Gladstone opposed, failed by a 44 percent to 56 percent margin. The measure would have authorized the city to incur up to $7.5 million in debt to build the library.

Reisner, 52, is a former Gladstone School Board member who is a substitute teacher in Portland Public Schools and in several Clackamas County school districts. He noted that the members don’t always agree on the goals of Save Gladstone’s direction.

“I appreciated their endorsement, and I feel like that was a help in my election, and my thoughts are aligned with theirs when it comes to the library,” he said. “The library building itself is in need of some repair; it’s small and it doesn’t have the adequate ADA accommodations, but neither does the City Hall or the police station, which I think in the scheme of things are a higher priority than the library.”

Another high priority for Reisner is sewer systems, since Gladstone experienced a raw sewage overflow into the Clackamas River last week from heavy rains overloading an intersection point of its wastewater and storm water systems.

Lincoln City, which has its City Hall and library in the same location, could be a model for Gladstone, Reisner said. The old Clackamas County Elections building at Gloucester Avenue is vacant, so Reisner also sees some possibilities with that site.

Developers proposal

As announced in the City Council meeting on Nov. 13, Gladstone property owner and longtime resident Dennis Marsh has some investors who are interested in working with the city to redevelop the current City Hall/police station site and lease it to the city with provisions that the city would own it at some point in the future. A smaller, new library could also go in the redeveloped site.

“There are a lot of possibilities, and I’m willing to listen to any of the ideas,” Reisner said.

Marsh said that he came up with the idea after touring the police station, where he felt sorry for the state of the facilities. Within 45 minutes of sharing his general concept over coffee with Gladstone councilors Len Nelson and Tom Mersereau, who both ran unopposed this month, they secured a meeting with City Administrator Pete Boyce, who also found the project to be promising.

“I thought of this, and then everyone thought it was a good idea, so as soon as they figure out what they need, I’ll get a more specific proposal together,” Marsh said.

Retail businesses on the first floor, with city offices above, would add to the city’s downtown vibrancy, Reisner argued. Current code only allows for 35-foot-high buildings of three stories, but that limitation was put in years ago when the Gladstone Volunteer Fire Department didn’t have a 100-foot ladder truck.

“I’d be willing to go up to four floors, but I think anything higher than that would be out of place in our city,” Reisner said. “In getting there, we’re going to have to look at our codes, and see where different changes need to be made.”

Gladstone’s comprehensive plan hasn’t been updated since 2006. But that wasn’t at issue when the city’s approval of library plans went to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals.

“One thing I learned from the LUBA appeal is that we can, within limits, set our own rules,” he said. “If we have problems with vehicle access, let’s change the off-street parking requirements in front of the City Hall.”

But if it’s more than $1 million for the new city building, voters would have to approve the building after the new rules passed by citizens on the May ballot. Reisner wouldn’t want to see City Council shortcut that voter mandate by contracting a private developer, or by spending less than $1 million on buildings over the course of several years.

“If we’re going to be spending that amount of money over a long period of time, then my feeling is that we should ask voters for more input than just showing up at City Council meetings,” he said.

The proposed library site north of downtown Gladstone was also a sore point for Reisner. The current chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, he also voted against the library plans last year because he saw the building’s proposed footprint as less-than-ideal.

“Portland Avenue isn’t as vibrant as it could be, and taking the library out of that area would only take away from that,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see the City Hall, police station and library move out of the Portland Avenue area,” although he could see them move from their current locations at the same intersection.

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