City & Government, Creswell

Creswell council combats campfires, OKs airport grants 

CRESWELL — Creswell City Council tackled a variety of issues, including campfires in the park, development moratorium snags, and grants received to help with airport operations this month. 

Campfires in Garden Lake Park

As wildfires rage across the state, community members came to council concerned about campfires at Garden Lake Park. 

While Creswell resident Kirk Garner noted it is not a top-priority crime, campfires can be extremely dangerous, especially recently, as Oregon is facing one of its most challenging wildfire seasons yet. 

“All it takes is somebody to leave their campfire, and you have a straight line of wind blowing through there, and then the forest is on fire, and we’ve potentially caused another disaster,” said Garner. 

The campfire issue has coincided with Creswell’s unhoused situation. However, the city’s made recent strides toward curbing the unhoused issue. Through various avenues, the city’s been able to help four unhoused residents find either housing, camping options on private property, or housing prospects.

“Things are headed in the right direction,” said Alex Speldrich, Creswell Sergeant, in regards to Creswell’s unhoused situation. When asked about the campfire issue, Speldrich said that deputies are doing weekly evening patrols in Garden Lake Park. 

“My plan is to try and get (the deputies) out there more often than once a week to at least do a walkthrough,” Speldrich said. “The best thing that people can do is just be proactive and pay attention and report these things as they do happen.”

Fixing the issue creating the moratorium

Council this month also adopted a program to fix the issue causing a development moratorium in the City.

Under the moratorium the Council adopted last month, the city can’t add new buildings to its wastewater utility systems until the system meets the Department of Environmental Quality’s environmental standards. The Council voted unanimously to adopt a matrix outlining necessary milestones with dates the city must complete to lift the moratorium. 

“Even though it may not be exactly what we wanted to do, there was a lot of negotiation, and this is what DEQ allowed us to come down to, so we met in the middle on quite a few of these even though it’s going to be a huge cost to the city,” said Cliff Bellew, public works director.

While a costly process, Jim Piper, finance director, is optimistic. According to Piper, the DEQ is now awarding low-interest rate loans of under one percent, which the city plans to apply for. 

“We’re encouraged just to hear that less than a 1% loan would be much more cost-effective than, say, if we had to go get a 4% loan,” said Piper. 

There is an opportunity for previously applied for loans to be forgiven by up to $100,000, but the amount forgiven and grants available are dependent on the city’s median household income. 

The City was able to exclude users not on the wastewater system, a move that will impact the city’s median income. 

“We’re hoping to hear back some better results whether or not we meet that threshold, that will give us a little more leeway,” Piper said.

The Chronicle is working on a full story regarding Creswell’s moratorium for an upcoming edition. 

Street tree ordinances

The Council voted unanimously on multiple motions on ordinances relating to street tree planting, maintenance, removal, and replacement.

Under the previously used development code, the application process for a street tree removal permit was expensive and complex. 

“In the development code, it outlined the type one or type two application which had the $80 and $200 fee associated with it. In this amendment, this change directs people toward the street tree removal permit, which is a free application, so the idea is to make it less onerous,” said Curtis Thomas, city planner.

The newly utilized municipal code dictates that permits are free and approved by the public works director, but judgment may be deferred to the Park and Tree Advisory Board. However, if a tree poses an immediate threat, you may now remove it without a permit. You may also trim street trees without approval from the public works director so long as you use non-mechanical equipment.

Enforcement regulations were also adjusted. The enforcement passage used to only apply to tree planting but now also includes street tree removal. As per the revised municipal code, tree removal that does not comply with the regulations requires replacing it. If not replaced, the city will replace it for a fee.

Airport grants, and more 

The Council unanimously approved a contract between the city manager and Northwest Community Builders to put a wastewater facility in the airport, giving momentum to a discussion that has been ongoing for over 10 years. 

“Ten years ago we were talking about this… we’ve talked about wastewater out there for a long time, so to me, this isn’t a huge vote for the council,” said Dave Stram, mayor.

The city also unanimously approved two Critical Oregon Airport Relief Program (COAR) grants for the airport: a $25,000 grant for improvements to the airport’s emergency operation center, and another $25,000 grant for security cameras around the airport. 

“I am impressed with the number of grant opportunities airport manager (Shelley) Humble has pursued during her time and has been successful in,” said councilor Shelly Clark. “That’s a direct reflection on the work that she does and the leadership she gives out at the airport… I also think that there’s a direct reflection on improvements to our city that we’ve been able to make.”

Along the same vein, an extra $602,000 was approved by council to complete the city’s runway project. The project was scheduled to be completed in 2023 but is taking longer than anticipated. The $602,000 will be covered by grant money and will not take money out of the city’s budget.

Two other grants awarded to the city were approved unanimously, including:

• A $10,000 grant from the Department of Land Conservation and Development to review and project costs of expanding utilities and infrastructure to vacant parcels, a step that will aid the city in future boundary extensions.

• A $10,000 grant from the Lane County Public Health Department to put up no-smoking signs for the city’s parks and schools.

The next Council meeting will be on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.



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