The Lake Oswego City Council took a step forward with its intent to acquire the Yates property adjacent to Hallinan Woods after just under a year of silence on the move.
During the July 20 meeting, the council approved a resolution to exercise eminent domain — the right of the government to take ownership of a private property and convert it to a public use, so long as just compensation is awarded to the owner — with respect to acquiring the property at 1107 Yates Ave.
City attorney Jason Loos said this resolution is the first legal step in moving toward using eminent domain to acquire the property. It basically indicates that "the city needs the property for public use," Loos said.
Last September, the council directed the former City Attorney David Powell to prepare a resolution of necessity to acquire the property on Yates Street, and to proceed with the steps to acquire the property by eminent domain. This decision came after a community-led rally which encouraged the city to purchase the property to prevent the eventual removal of more than 100 trees and development of six homes
Powell said in an interview with the Review last year that the decision to move forward with a resolution of necessity implied the city's intent to continue discussions with the owner about purchasing the property. If the two couldn't negotiate a price, Powell said, the city could acquire the property by eminent domain — which the city has now made strides toward.
"This has been a constant negotiation," Mayor Joe Buck told the Review. "Passing the resolution of necessity demonstrates how vital we see this piece property to the neighborhood, the acquisition of the property to the neighborhood and the broader community."
Eminent domain is not the first step, Buck added — it's the last step.
"It's important that folks know the city always is going to first negotiate in good faith and really exhaust all efforts on that front," Buck said.
Staff updates council on North Shore Road Bridge closure
After the North Shore Road Bridge closed last week due to structural issues in the nearby retaining wall, staff provided the City Council with an update during the Tuesday meeting.
The city found cracks and movement in the retaining wall during a recent inspection of the bridge, which runs over Lakewood Bay.
It will be closed until further notice and people are encouraged to use an alternative route. North Shore Road will remain open between Cabana Lane and Lake Shore Road for local access only.
City Engineer Erica Rooney said the city had issues with folks moving the barriers to access the area, so they implemented road closure blocks that are more difficult to move. She also said GPS and mapping systems have now received closure information and are suggesting other routes.
Rooney said addressing the issue is a priority project for the city as the bridge is only one of two routes on the east side of Oswego Lake to get around.
"Long term, this is a critical route for us," she said. "Our goal is to get this reopened as soon as possible."
Rooney said the city may have to place other projects on pause, as this project could take four to six months due to the high demand for engineering and construction services. Right now, people in general are struggling to obtain suppliers, Rooney said.
"Hopefully, we can get someone on board quickly," said Rooney, adding that they will need to determine what fix is necessary before making accurate cost and time estimates. "Long term, the bridge is pushing about almost 100 years old."
The cost estimate for the bridge replacement, if necessary, is just under $4 million for the bridge and the approaches, Rooney said.
Councilor John Wendland asked if they determined the cause of the issue, and if a car hit the retaining wall. Rooney said there were no marks of an accident but that the area showed a bit of sinking and cracks.
Wendland also questioned if there was state or federal funding available for bridges.
Rooney said they are looking into funding options including clarity around what projects can be used with American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Rooney said there are two other city bridges that are in the queue for potential funding from ODOT that would be ahead of this bridge.
"This was not one of our worst bridges," she said.
Some councilors expressed concern over that comment, though Rooney said it's not the North Shore Bridge itself that is of concern, rather the retaining wall.
Republic Services seeks rate increase
Also during the Tuesday meeting, Republic Services came before the City Council to provide an update on their 2020 annual report and also share the possibility of increasing rates.
Republic Services representatives said Metro enacted a 17% rate adjustment on the tip fee (the charge for leaving waste at its transfer facilities) which became effective July 1. Will Mathias, Republic Services' finance manager, said when Lake Oswego last enacted a 5.6% rate increase, it was not yet known that Metro's tip fee increase was on the horizon.
Republic Services asked the council to direct staff to work with them on a rate adjustment, though Buck asked them to go through the proper channels to have this on the council's agenda in the fall.
For more information, visit the city's website.
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