City & Government, Creswell

Data: Creswell population can support bigger grocery store

CRESWELL – City government can occasionally be contentious and chaotic. This week’s work session was definitely that at times.

City planner Curtis Thomas presented data gathered by Marketek’s Mary Bosch on the topic of: Can Creswell handle a large grocery store? If so, how large?

Ultimately, the data showed that the City can in fact support a large grocery store from 14,000-20,000 square feet. This means the City does not have the people to support one of the grocery giants like Costco or Winco, both of which would need buildings which are significantly larger.

“The data tells some of the story,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, you have to be able to run a good business to survive anywhere.”

In addition to the Marketek data that Thomas relayed to council, he discussed information gathered from a survey which was digitally distributed through Facebook and the City’s website to Creswell residents. He said there were about 800 respondents, and 70% said they were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with current Creswell shopping options.

Councilor Staci Holt had questions over the validity of the survey responses. There was the hope and assumption that only Creswell residents would fill out the survey, but there were no mechanisms in place to ensure that was the case.

“I think that it would be fair to say that an activist who really wanted the grocery store here could encourage their friends who don’t even live here to hop on and take that and skew the results,” Holt said. “I see us moving forward on something that I’m not convinced that the majority of our citizens want. That’s kind of my point. I think that Facebook survey is an inappropriate way to gauge that, and I think that we should not be spending money going down this road at all until we are sure that the majority of Creswellians want this because I’m not convinced about it.”

Councilor Nick Smith also questioned whether it would simply make sense for Jessica Landstra of Farmlands to expand rather than have the City bring in new competition. City manager Michelle Amberg confirmed that she is having conversations with Landstra to gauge her feelings on expansion as well.

This conversation was simply a discussion of survey results, and it should continue down the line.

Tabling the ordinance relating to camping and parking

Councilors Norma Jean Osborn and Clark Kent brought the topic of the camping and parking times allowed for unhoused people back into council chambers earlier this week in an effort to support Amberg. Amberg expressed that the problem she has with ordinance No. 557 is that she gets phone calls on her cell phone at all hours of the day from the unhoused community begging her to have compassion on them. She said she even received phone calls when she was in Ecuador.

“It’s a problem,” she said. “My private life is affected by the homeless population.”

While Smith was empathetic that Amberg has been consistently harassed by the City’s unhoused population, adding that they should absolutely not have her cell phone number, he was enraged that this topic had made its return.

“I swear to God, I will get every person in Creswell here if we go through this again,” Smith said. I’m about ready to walk out. I’m done doing this. This is the smallest population. This is ridiculous.”

General consensus of the council was to not move forward in addressing this ordinance. As it has been tabled, Mayor Dave Stram said the council may not discuss it for six months. However, Smith did address Amberg directly about the phone calls she’s receiving.

“Clearly, as a group, we will support you. If there’s something we can help you with or go on with to stop that nonsense because somebody did that on purpose …,” Smith said. “I support you 100%. You should be able to clock off at 5:30 or 6. There’s gotta be time, especially on your vacation, especially with your family. If you can come up with something, I’d be happy to help in any way, and you have my vote.”

And in other news…

• City planner Curtis Thomas presented a resolution adopting the Lane County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan to council, and council decided to move it forward to the next city council regular session meeting.

• Su Liudahl addressed the council to discuss removing deed restrictions from the old schoolhouse, and this conversation will continue at the next city council meeting.

• It seems the police may have been called in the middle of the council meeting this week. A recess was called while discussing ordinance No. 557 to mitigate an unknown situation. According to Amberg, a very old woman, who she called “unsafe,” was “bound to be arrested.” More information is not available at this time.



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