City News

YOUR GOVERNMENT: City council to hear infrastructure spending update

Updates on infrastructure bond spending, progress for airport construction and a 50+ yearly update are on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.

The Salem City Council meets Monday, April 24, at 6 p.m. in-person, with the meeting  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.

To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday.

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. S.E., Room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.


Bond spending

The council will hear an update on projects funded by the $300 million infrastructure package voters passed in November which will be spent over the next 10 years.

The city established a bond oversight committee that meets monthly and includes Mayor Chris Hoy, Councilors Virginia Stapleton and Micki Varney and residents Bob Cortright and Mike Herron who will present the update.

In March, the city ordered $19.9 million in fire equipment, including 16 fire engines, two ladder trucks, air and wildland vehicles and two ambulances. The city expects the equipment to arrive by early 2025.

The remaining $7 million in bond money allocated for the fire department will be used for rescue equipment including command vehicles, tow rigs and “jaws of life.”

This month, the city will begin work to pave the parking area at the dog park at Minto Brown Island Park and parking lot #3 at the end of park road.

The areas will be getting upgrades to stormwater drainage, trails, pathways and landscaping with the bulk of construction coming this fall.

The committee will begin focusing on sidewalks, pedestrian crossing and mixed use path spending next, which together will receive over $22 million.

Housing and development

The council will also hear about housing projects recently approved by the planning commission.

The commission approved a 396 unit apartment complex proposed by Salem-based KCH Enterprises at 1851 Cordon Rd S.E., according to the decision. The site is near Bill Riegel Park and Miller Elementary School.

The planning commission also approved 24 lots at 5045 Macleay Rd S.E. to be developed into single family homes and townhouses.

Plans for a car dealership at 1717 Freeway Ct. N.E. have also been approved.

Airport employee fees

During Monday’s meeting, the council will consider adding five new fees to recover the cost of processing background checks and security badges for workers at the Salem Municipal Airport.

The proposed amounts per employee include $100 for a new badge in the security area, and $50 for badges in the airport operations area.

During its last meeting, the council approved agreements with an unnamed airline outlining use of the airport and a financial subsidy for the airline if passenger traffic doesn’t meet expectations.

Center 50+ and economic reports

The council will hear the 2022 annual report from Center 50+, highlighting the volunteer outreach and progress made last year. 

The program served 3,800 homebound seniors last year, and 1,000 living in community care settings, according to the report. Over 1,300 volunteers participated in the respite program, which gives caregivers of people with dementia a five-hour break.

The program will also present its age-friendly action plan, which includes education about using transportation and technology, and outreach services to people’s homes.

Council will also hear the Urban Development Department’s economic development report for the first quarter of 2023.

The report highlights February’s demolition of the former Union Gospel Mission, Saffron and ABC Music Buildings, and the opening of the Holman Hotel in March.

Construction began at Salem’s airport in February, which is scheduled to be complete by mid-May. Ground equipment has been delivered, and staff are developing the airport security plan. The airport aims to launch commercial traffic by summer 2023. 

Minimum off-street parking

The council will also hold a second reading of an amendment to eliminate minimum off-street parking requirements citywide. If approved, developers would determine the amount of parking to build with new buildings. 

The change is in response to new state rules asking cities to reform their parking plans by June 20 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging walking and public transportation.

Wallace Marine Park Lease
The city council will consider a lease extension for an 8 acre portion of Wallace Marine Park it leases from the state.

The Oregon Department of Transportation owns a portion of the park underneath the OR-22 and the Center and Marion Street bridges, and its lease to the city expires in November.

If the council approves, the extension would be a 10-year term, with no charge to the city, though the city is responsible for state-approved maintenance and improvements.

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.