City & Government, Springfield

Proposal for indoor track advances

After much discussion, a majority of members on the Springfield Economic Development Agency Board were interested in moving forward with a request to use property in North Glenwood for an indoor track facility.
No official motion was required during the March 9 meeting, but the board decided to move forward in investigating more about the site through determining an agreement with the Springfield Community Development Corporation that will enable SCDC to begin fundraising while preserving SEDA’s interests.
The board had mixed feelings about fully accepting SCDC’s request, but because this was one of the first steps in the project and the SEDA board and city council will be discussing it further in the immediate future, SEDA decided to move the project forward to receive more information.
SEDA board member and City Councilor Leonard Stoehr expressed concern about the impact the indoor track facility would have on tenants’ rent in the area and said he wanted to see research about how projects of a comparable size impact residents around them.
Steve Moe, SEDA board member and city councilor, read a statement with similar concerns, particularly citing the use of urban renewal funds in the project and how selling the property to a public owner instead of a private owner will impact Glenwood.
“I continue to hear, ‘I like the idea of the facility,’ but I don’t see how it will better Glenwood,” he said.
Upon realizing this meeting wasn’t a final decision, SEDA Board Member and City Councilor Sean Van Gordon expressed that it was “important to give SCDC a green light to keep them going forward.” He suggested that SEDA confirm interest but also ask for more information on getting the project done.
SEDA board chair and City Councilor Marilee Woodrow explained that in the past Springfield has waited to move forward on projects and have lost opportunities, and she doesn’t want to see that happen again. While Moe reminded the board about the dangers of a project, Woodrow said that effort can be put in to not allow that to happen.
“We’ve had many opportunities and ideas and none have materialized,” she said. “Let’s put the pieces together to see if it’ will work, and if not, okay, but I think it’s to our merit and benefit of Springfield to go forward far enough to see if we can or can’t do it.”
SEDA board member, County Commissioner and SCDC board member Joe Berney said that while he is in support of the project, he wanted to know more about the timeline, but reiterated that Springfield has said no to these types of projects before at the detriment to the City.
City Councilor and SEDA board member Joe Pishioneri said, “Why slam the door shut when we don’t even know what’s on the other side?” He added that he supports the project and the board should move forward on it.
The meeting also allows for adjacent property owners to speak. Phil Marvin expressed concerns about where the funding was coming from. Christine Lundberg, mayor and SEDA and SCDC board member, explained funding would come from grants, transit and lottery funds, as well as private donations.
City Manager Pro Tem Mary Bridget Smith also explained that the SCDC is in a position where it doesn’t want to move forward with fundraising because it doesn’t have a location or owner confirmed, but it also can’t garner answers to questions without moving forward either. At the time of publication, the SCDC was also waiting to get confirmation from Willamalane about their interest in owning and operating the facility.
Pishioneri expressed concern with the questions bogging down the SCDC, but Berney and Van Gordon thought that those questions could be answered within a few weeks.
The indoor track facility conversation will continue during the City Council meeting on March 16.



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