City News

YOUR GOVERNMENT: City to consider pursuing grant for 360-acre wildlife habitat

The Salem City Council meets Monday, April 10, to vote on agreements for an airline’s use of the airport space and potential uses for a 360-acre property for sale on the west side of the Willamette River.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m., and will be both in-person at the council chambers and available to watch online.

The meeting will be livestreamed on Capital Community Media’s YouTube channel, with translation to Spanish and American Sign Language available.


Commercial airline agreements

The city council will consider signing agreements with an unnamed airline, the latest step in its effort to return commercial service to the Salem Municipal Airport.

The agreements outline the airline’s use of the airport, the fees it would pay and a financial subsidy it would receive from the city if passenger traffic falls below expectations.

The subsidy would come from an $850,000 federal grant, and if approved, a $350,0000 grant from Travel Salem.

More on that here:

Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program

The city will consider whether to apply for a $7 million grant to purchase around 363 acres of property north of Wallace Marine Park on Northwest River Bend Road in unincorporated Polk County.

The grant would come from the state’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, and could be used to restore vegetation and build a habitat for fish and other local wildlife. If the city opts to apply, it could receive the state’s decision by September.

The area runs along 1.4 miles of the river and was previously used for aggregate mining, which includes rock, sand and gravel. Portions of the site have limited vegetation because of the mining and steep-walled pits.

The owner, Walling Properties, has approached the city about selling, according to the report. 

Water wells on the property could be a potential municipal water source, and there’s space for a 38-acre urban park, according to the staff report.

Using state mitigation money would mean the site would no longer be an option for a third bridge in Salem over the Willamette. It is one of 12 bridge sites identified by the Salem River Crossing Project, according to the staff report.

The city estimates it would cost $577,000 to operate the site, based on costs to maintain Minto-Brown Island Park. Costs to add trails and other amenities have not been estimated.

A map of the potential development plans for a 363 acre property north of Wallace Marine Park (City of Salem)

Federal housing funds

The council will consider whether it will adopt its 2023 Housing and Community Development Annual Action Plan, which describes how Salem will spend federal housing resources.

The draft of the plan breaks down the spending of the annual Community Development Block Grant and the Home Investment Partnership Act, which this year is $2.2 million.

Proposed spending includes $105,500 to Marion/Polk Food Share, $52,000 for the Women at the Well Grace House, and $60,000 for St. Francis Shelter.

It also includes over $450,000 for veteran housing at Applegate Terrace, and $300,000 in to allow DevNW to subsidize down payments for 24 affordable single family homes on Macleay Road.

Minimum parking requirements

The council  will also consider advancing a plan to eliminate minimum parking requirements in response to new state rules aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging walking and public transportation.

The proposed code amendment would mean new construction would get rid of the city’s requirement to have a certain amount of parking spaces for certain types of buildings, such as restaurants needing one space per 250 square feet of space, according to the staff report.

If approved, the developer would set the amount of off-street parking.

The move is one of several changes to parking the city is considering, including introducing paid parking to the downtown core. 


The city will also consider appointments to various commissions.

Russell Allen, the director of business services at the Willamette Education Service District, has applied to serve on the Citizen Budget Committee. In his application, he said he recently moved back to Salem and wants to apply his knowledge of finance and the public sector.

He listed six years of experience working for the city, including as vice president of the Salem Outreach Shelter Board. Much of his community work was in Albany.

Julie Curtis, a retired south Salem resident, has also applied for a seat on the Citizen Budget Committee.

In her application, she wrote that she has 30 years of experience crafting budgets on a state level as the former assistant director of Travel Oregon and communications manager at the state Department of State Lands.

Kyle Hedquist, who works at Justice Advocate, has applied for a position on the Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission. In his application, he said that he wants to make resources accessible. He cited his lived experience and his work as a board member of Bridgeworks Oregon, which brings art and music to Oregon prisons.

Krista Lauer, vice president of hospitality at Bryn Mawr Vineyards, has applied for a position on the Salem Public Art Commission.

In her application, she said that she has an interest in making art accessible, and has a decade of experience in museums and nonprofit arts associations, mostly at the Museum of Contemporary Denver.

Lauer recently returned to Salem, and is a 2015 graduate of Willamette University. While studying, she volunteered at the Salem Art Association.

The city also recently selected two new members to the Salem Human Rights Commission.

Jacqueline Leung, whose term at the Salem City Council ended in December, is the executive director of the Micronesian Islander Community.

“Serving as a commission member will continue the work I have done before and while I have been on council – which is to see the growth and betterment of our city. It is necessary we focus on our city, improving what we offer, and expand on what we do have. Salem has grown in the past 10 years, and as Salem continues to grow, we must look into the future and plan for the future we want Salem to be,” she wrote in her application.

William Laduca, a student at Willamette University and graduate of South Salem High School, wrote in his application that young people are often “disenfranchised and disengaged from the political arena,” and he seeks to represent a young community perspective.

“I hope to help modernize the city of Salem and establish equitable practices within our community,” he said.

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.