I am pleased the North Bend mayor and council decided on July 5 to slow down the process concerning destroying our downtown medians. A fast-track decision is unreasonable, illogical and unfair.
It is extremely unfortunate that this North Bend City Council was not part of the comprehensive plan process. It took a lot of long, hard work. Yes, blood, sweat and tears went into this document, as well as an immense amount of precious city funds. This council, unfortunately, does not possess the institutional memory that is so vital to certain decision making, but, fortunately, they do have an outstanding city staff that does.
The North Bend Comprehensive Plan is a balanced document. The vision plan element emphasizes a downtown with wide sidewalks, street trees, benches and landscaped medians. Thankfully this hurry-up, yank-the-medians-out mentality has been slowed. In this case the adage, “Act in haste, repent in leisure” is so true.
Many of the main street changes mentioned at the meeting on July 5 would speed traffic through town, but with negative consequences to some businesses (as we heard from the popular George’s Bakery) and certainly to this council’s No. 1 priority – citizen safety.
Testifying on July 5 was a businessman and member of two North Bend city committees who urged the council to save the medians.
At the July 19 public hearing, add to that the:
* Recommendation of your public works department to keep the medians;
* The recommendation of your North Bend Planning Commission to keep the medians; and
* The considered judgment of the city staff (who were part of the long planning process) to keep the medians; and
* The encouragement of some economic development committee members who, after discussion, feel the council’s decision should be based on staff and professionals.
Importantly, at the July 19 median public hearing not one person spoke in favor of removing the medians. All who testified requested that the medians be retained.
* A two-year resident asked the council to keep the medians;
* A former council member who was part of the vision and comprehensive plan process said to keep the medians;
* The North Bend Planning Commission chairman, speaking for the members, said to keep the medians;
* The wife of a former mayor had traffic concerns and requested that the council keep the medians;
* A 50-year resident and former community activist said to keep the medians;
* A business woman who questioned city procedures for decision making asked that the council keep the mediums; and
* A local resident who would be severely negatively impacted by possible North Bend Way changes pleaded for no disruption and to keep the medians.
Surely all these responses should tip the scales in favor of saving the medians. Thousands of dollars to tear out the medians at this time is not a wise choice of our limited city resources.
Your North Bend City Council members will have a legacy to live with. Former council members and mayors (right now I’m thinking of Joan Simpson) left with accolades. Others, such as those “gung-ho” supporters of the Olympic pipeline proposal to extend a line through our city, will be remembered otherwise.
I ask the North Bend City Council, “What will your legacy be?” The choice is yours.