City News

YOUR GOVERNMENT: Salem City Council to consider pedestrian, parks projects

The Salem City Council meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23. The meeting will be hybrid, meaning it can be attended both in person or remotely. 

Salemites who would like to comment in person can sign up on the rosters at the entrance of the Chambers before the meeting starts.

To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday. The meeting will be livestreamed on the City of Salem YouTube channel, with translation to Spanish and American Sign Language available.

For written comments, email [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Monday, or on paper to the City Recorder’s office at the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St SE, Room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.


The council will vote on whether to apply for two grants from the state’s Oregon Community Paths Program to improve walking, biking and crossings for school children in Salem.

The Pringle Creek Path would connect Southeast Commercial Street to the network of paths along Pringle Creek and Mill Race, and with paths to Riverfront, Minto-Brown Island and Wallace Marine Parks.

The estimated cost is $8.24 million, and the staff report recommends applying for $6 million from the state grant program. Bond funds or money from the South Waterfront Urban Renewal Area would cover the remainder of the cost and elements such as public art.

The council also will consider a grant to install a new pedestrian bridge over Oregon Highway 22, likely connecting Bill Riegel Park with Miller Elementary School, located in the Southeast Mill Creek Neighborhood. 

The connection would provide safer crossings for students, at an estimated cost of $300,000, according to the city staff report. The city would need to provide 10% of the funding, which could come from its share of state gas taxes, the report said.

State legislators are considering extending TriMet’s Westside Express commuter rail service to Salem. It now only goes as far south as Wilsonville.

The council will consider supporting the state’s commuter rail study. The city’s legislative committee has recommended that the council support the study, for which ODOT is seeking $500,000 from the Legislature.

The city also is considering taking ownership from the state of most of the 44-acre Geer Community Park, located at 241 Geer Dr. N.E. which features walking paths, two baseball fields and two soccer fields. 

The City of Salem operates the park through a lease, but the council will consider authorizing a property transfer. If the new agreement between the city and state is approved, the city would acquire the majority of the park while the state would keep approximately three acres.

If approved, the city would add $40,000 worth of crossing signal equipment on the intersection of Northeast Park Avenue and Recovery Drive, and $230,000 of improvements with funds coming from parks system development charges, according to the staff report

The city plans to update Geer Park with a community skate park, a plaza and picnic shelter, new paths and landscaping with construction scheduled for 2024.

Councilor Virginia Stapleton plans to put forward a motion to set a city goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries over the next decade, according to the agenda. The “Vision Zero” plan would direct city departments to prioritize improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

The council will also vote on whether to shift $279,260 in unused federal funds to Marion-Polk Food Share Meals on Wheels.

The city received $1.6 million in 2020 from federal Community Development Block Grant CARES Act funding, but the funding expires in June, according to the staff report. The funding was in response to the Covid pandemic.

The unused funding is from canceled projects, including $100,000 for Salem Housing Authority Mortgage Assistance, and spending on St. Francis Shelter rental assistance, child care provider training, and Covid prevention for Saxon Youth Football.

The projects were not completed because of issues such as compliance with documentation, staff capacity and a lack of qualified applicants, according to an attached memo

The council will also hear the Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board’s annual report and presentation about programs and activities. The report highlights 2022 progress, including plans to improve Bailey Ridge Park, and details future goals that include park promotion. 

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.