During the April 20 Springfield City Council session, the Council approved March 2020 disbursements and supplemental budget three, heard an update on the Comcast franchise extension and heard business from the audience regarding the Community Coalition proposal about purchasing the memorial building to continue services to help unhoused populations. 

The council had two in-person and over-the-phone comments from the audience, as well as 17 written comments. The written comments will be posted to the website to be read by the council and public. Of the comments, 13 were in opposition to the memorial building proposal, three were in support and one was in general support of affordable housing.

The first comment was from Bernice Poe, who sits on the advisory board of the Community Coalition, she said she was excited to see the proposal come along and that this is what Springfield needs. 

“The Community Coalition is what we need and gives the unhoused the dignity they need,” she said.

Chris McCallister, shelter manager at the memorial building, said they were able to keep 32 people sheltered in place. He said they are used to helping between 90-120 people in the building and have had more results in one week than in the past six months. They successfully got one person on a housing list, restored Schizophrenia medication to another, and helped someone with a wheelchair who was displaced due to their disabilities into a hotel to get better services.

“It is an amazing time to be in Springfield,” he said. “This is a really awesome idea and I hope that as things move forward that the budget is accepted and approved. There’s nothing like this in Springfield and if this building is rezoned there will never be anything like this in Springfield.”

Before approving the consent calendar —which included March 2020 disbursements for approval, the OLCC liquor license application for PublicHouse and awarding a contract to Knife River Corporation for $1,137,112.71 for the Virginia-Daisy Bikeway phase 1A — Moore had a question about line item 1001889 in the disbursements. The council moved to approve all but that line, and the motion carried, before answering Moore’s question.

Line 1001889 included a disbursement to the Chamber for the visitors center and indoor track facility.

Moore wanted more information on what $6,250 was going for with the track and Smith explained that the cost is the quarterly personnel payment for someone at the chamber who is working on the project, and the cost was approved for past budget yet. 

The council then moved onto the Comcast franchise extension, granting an 18- month extension to Jan. 1 2022 to allow parties to complete their renewal negotiations. 

Moore asked why for the second contract extension, instead of having an extension of six months, it was moved to 18 months: “Are we disincentivizing them to get this done?” Neil Obringer, budget officer, explained that the negotiations have taken as long as they have because Springfield is working with Lane County and Eugene with this franchise, and there have been substantial federal regulatory changes and they are negotiating over the language about how they treat free services to public institutions and if they’re exempt from gross receipts. 

This was a first reading and therefore not voted upon by the council. 

The Council also recognized Pro-Tem City Manager and City Attorney Mary Bridget Smith, who took over the position following the retirement of Gino Grimaldi. Mayor Christine Lundberg expressed her recognition of the “hard work you did to do both positions,” especially moving into COVID-19. 

City Councilor Marilee Woodrow said she didn’t think they could have anyone better than her in that position and City Councilor Sheri Moore said Smith set the stage for Nancy Newton, the new city manager, to come in.