COTTAGE GROVE – BMX is back and on a roll. This Monday at Cottage Grove City Council, the “Row River BMX” nonprofit entered into a licensing agreement with the city to move forward on their plans to revitalize the Todd Kephart memorial BMX track. 

In 1984 the original track was built as a memorial to Todd Kephart, who tragically passed away in an automobile accident. Cottage Grove rallied around his vision of BMX and the track operated until its closure in 2014. “As you may or may not know, the sport of BMX racing provides people of all ages a positive activity that promotes competition and good sportsmanship,” said Brandon Meyer, Row River spokesman and assistant track operator. “In BMX, no one sits on the bench. By its very nature, BMX is an individual sport involving an entire family. As you can see, we have many families here.” 

Justin Travis of USA BMX wrote a letter of support for the new track, pledging to bring at least one State Championship Series race annually to Cottage Grove. “We will be here for recreational purposes, to benefit the residents of the City of Cottage Grove and the surrounding areas,” said Kimberly Green, Row River secretary. The nonprofit already has several sponsors and “local businesses have reached out to support the project,” Green said. 

Councilor Kenneth Michael Roberts suggested that Row River BMX join forces with local efforts to revitalize the skatepark. Due to the involvement of USA BMX, Green told councilors that a combined effort wouldn’t be possible but that “they would be a great resource for the skatepark.” 

The partnership with USA BMX allows Row River to access a host of resources, such as STEM education resources for youth and college scholarships. In the future, they plan to teach bike maintenance workshops in local schools. “Our main vision is to bring this safe family environment for the kids in our community and the surrounding areas,” Meyer said. The council voted unanimously to move forward with the project. 

New site for homeless shelter?

Toward the end of the meeting, Councilor Chalice Savage brought independent research she’d conducted on an alternative site for the unhoused shelter. The building is on the corner of M and Anthony and was previously a Nazarene church. 

“People were very concerned about the Highway 99 site because it was so close to the high school. When I saw this building for sale, I thought it might be a way to solve that problem,” Savage said. The new location is across the street from Community Sharing, near the community center and South Lane Mental Health. 

“We’ve actually been in touch with the previous pastor there, Cindy Slaymaker. And she’s talked to the district and they said, make an offer if you’re interested,” said Richard Meyers, Cottage Grove city manager. 

Savage also suggested the city apply for Lane County American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help with renovation costs. The deadline to apply for this grant with Lane County is July 16, putting the city in a challenging position. “There’s $3 million going out from the county to the rural communities,” Meyers said. “We do have a pretty good chance on the grant. We’ve been talking to Commissioner (Heather) Buck. She’s on the grant committee, the review committee, and the commission for the final decision.” 

Councilor Savage then moved to “suspend the council rules regarding the motion to develop the shelter on Highway 99 site,” effectively reinstating the original council rules of order and allowing the discussion of a homeless shelter to be reopened. This motion passed with a single nay vote belonging to Solesbee. 

Savage, Meyers and Fleck walked through the M Street site last week. For the city manager’s office to pursue information on the M Street site, they need approval from the city council. “I’m interpreting this as changing the location (from Highway 99) and working on trying to make sure that opportunity is missed with the grant funding,” Meyers said. 

Councilor Savage moved to “authorize pursuit of the purchase and development of Nazarene church property at 152 South Street as a potential shelter site and additionally authorize the city manager to pursue any relevant grant opportunities.” This motion passed unanimously. 

Lane County deadly force plan 

Other business during the meeting included adopting the Lane County Deadly Force Plan by the Cottage Grove police department. Chief Scott Shepherd of the CGPD gave a brief presentation on the deadly physical force plan. Under new Senate Bill 111, an amendment to the program requires approval by the governing body of each jurisdiction within the county that employs a law enforcement agency. There are no significant changes to the deadly force plan, just clear guidelines on when deadly force is implemented. The plan has not been updated since 2018. 

South Lane clinic funding update

Councilors were given an overview of the city’s budget, slated for the June 27 city council meeting. In a budget committee hearing on June 10, the committee voted to remove a line item allocating funding to the completion of South Lane Clinic, moving the $100,000 in funding to the “contingency fund.” The city council can pull out money from the contingency fund at a later date. Jackie Lester spoke in support of the clinic during public comment. “One of the many lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic is that we no longer have the luxury to focus on our personal health and the health of our families,” Lester said.