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Posted by  Margaret Robertson on March 20, 2001 at 14:59:37:

OREGON NATIONAL GUARD, NAVY AND MARINE RESERVES CENTER
and
LANE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
(Updated: March 18, 2001)


THE ISSUE
(This section is excerpted from the Information Sheet released January, 2001, by the Russel Creek Neighbors, a neighborhood group formed to protect the unique qualities of the Russel Creek Basin.)

The Oregon Military Department (OMD), a consortium of the National Guard, Navy and Marine Reserves, has acquired a site, and is proposing constructing a new National Guard Armory, Navy and Marine Reserves Center. OMD has purchased a combined 34.48 site on the NW corner of 30th Avenue and McVay Highway. The parcel is across from Lane Community College (LCC), located in an area that is commonly referred to as the "Russel Creek Basin".

The proposed facility will consolidate, and replace the Armory in Cottage Grove, the Armory currently located on Centennial Blvd. in Eugene, as well as replace the Navy/Marine Reserve Center presently located at 13th Ave. and Chambers St. in Eugene. The new facility will house 3 national guard companies, 13 Detachment/Units from the Naval Reserve, and a Marine Corps Reserve bridge company, and is planned for 809 people, with a weekday staff of 35-40 people. The project is estimated to cost 19 million dollars, and includes a 3 story, 121,000 square foot building, with assembly hall, offices, classrooms, locker rooms, physical fitness area, medical section, including an area for physical exams, a kitchen, break room, and recruiting offices for both the Navy, and Marines. The facility includes a 6 bay vehicle repair facility, for the maintenance of National Guard vehicles. The proposed facility also includes an indoor shooting range. The shooting range will be used by soldie!
rs to qualify with standard issued M-16 assault rifles, and 9mm semi-automatic sidearms. The project description describes an area on the facility grounds for running and other outdoor activities. The original proposal showed a "bridge park", which is an area to store large portable bridge components.


Why Does The National Guard Need To Re-Locate? In 1995 Lane County voters approved a 39.5 million dollar bond for Lane County to build the Juvenile Justice Center, now located on Centennial Blvd. in Eugene. Lane County acquired the land where the Elks Lodge was located, and was deeded land surrounding the current National Guard Armory. In exchange, Lane County needed to find a suitable site for the Armory to move to. The Lane Council of Governments was hired to do a search, and provided 9 possible locations. The OMD concluded they would like to located adjacent I-5, and close to Lane Community College. Lane County provided the funds for site acquisition, and has agreed to pay OMD for the purchase of the current Armory site. The property purchased by OMD consist of five tax lots, the largest of which is zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). In 1995 lobbyist from Lane County went to the Oregon Legislature and had Land Use Law ORS 215.213 amended to read; "uses permitted in exc!
lusive farm use zones, sub-section (w); An armed forces reserve center, if the center is within one-half mile of a community college. For purposes of this paragraph, armed forces reserve center includes an armory of National Guard support facility."
CONCERNS EXPRESSED BY COMMUNITY MEMBERS:

Lack of Public Information and Community Involvement. The planning and discussion for this project has been in process since at least November 1, 1994, when an Oregon Military Department draft proposal was released, yet very little information has been provided to Eugene community members, or Lane Community College affiliates. A facility of this size and prominence will have an effect on the community as a whole, and therefore the members of the community should be well-informed participants in the process and decision-making. As Richard Miller, a neighbor and full-time student at Lane stated, "A community college is about community involvement. I see the Board of Education and the military moving ahead without making time to adequately weigh the opinions and suggestions of students, faculty, and neighbors*There is still a majority of students, staff, faculty and neighbors that are not aware of this project and the implications of cooperative ventures."

Ideological Conflicts. There are faculty, students, and staff of Lane Community College and the greater Eugene area, who as a matter of conscience, hold religious and ideological values which conflict with the stated missions of the military. If a partnership develops between the military and Lane Community College, (i.e., if LCC classes were to be held within the military reserve center), these individuals would be forced to choose between their personal convictions and their jobs or education.

Jeopardizing the Neutrality of Lane as a Public Educational Institution. The proposed partnership is an inappropriate insertion of a military presence into the public education arena. The OMD proposal cited above states that "Lane Community College provides a variety of educational programs and support services which dovetail very nicely with the activities of the other agencies*providing a unique opportunity to explore the joint use of a variety of facilities." This intermingling of activities would inevitably have an effect on the college culture, which may overshadow any value system that was in opposition to the military philosophy. The goal of the community college is to provide a broad-based education and an emphasis on fostering a capacity for critical thinking. This would be difficult if the military culture became a prominent, persuasive presence on our campus. Educational institutions should be committed to upholding high standards of democracy and an open cult!
ural space unhampered by powerful entities with a separate, conflicting agenda.

Recruitment Agenda. The proposed facility includes recruitment offices for the Navy and the Marines. There is concern that the student population would be exposed to persuasive recruitment techniques, which may lure them away from their current educational goals with promises of an easier way to attain those goals. Many students at Lane are not financially prepared to entertain alternatives to the community college program and would be vulnerable to the lure of an exciting career in the military. Pressure to join the military may usurp the opportunity that students have at Lane to develop intellectually and personally, without the strong influence of the military.

Funding Source Concerns. It is clear that funding issues play a role in the promotion of this partnership, which purports an ultimate savings of taxpayer's dollars. While this shortfall of dollars for education is a growing concern, there remains the question as to whether this problem should be solved by accepting funding from powerful non-educational entities. With any financial assistance, there inevitably comes an obligation to provide something in return, which again reduces our independence and autonomy as a public educational institution. It would be wiser to seek funding from federal, state and local tax-based sources that will uphold the value of public education, rather than trade Lane's independence for funding.

Mission Implications. As stated in the OMD 11/1/ 94 draft proposal, "The Guard has a twofold mission and would use the Center as a facility to prepare our reserve citizen-soldiers for both missions. This involves training for both our combat mission and our state mission to back up the civil authorities." The problem is that in the changing face of today's world these missions are not benign. First, during the past decade the United States has found it increasingly hard to recruit volunteers to become professional soldiers. The new solution to this shortage is to change the mission of the reserves from weekend warriors to front line soldiers. Reservists increasingly find themselves in combat abroad, i.e., Kosovo. Second, civil protests are on the rise. During the last year there have been large citizen based protests in Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. In Seattle the National Guard was used to disperse protestors. In a city like Eugene, where pr!
otests by citizens are plentiful, the potential use of the National Guard to "back up civil authorities" should be a source of concern.
*********************************************************************************************************

CONCERNS EXPRESSED BY THE "RUSSEL CREEK NEIGHBORS"
(This section excerpted from the "Information Sheet" released January, 2001, by the Russel Creek Neighbors.)

Wrong Location: This site is outside the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), and therefore is not served by a municipal sewer system. Adjacent LCC relies on sewage treatment lagoons, which the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has taken enforcement action against LCC for allowing inadequately treated wastewater to flow into Russel Creek. A similar system for this project would further compromise Russel Creek. Oregon's Statewide Planning Goal #11 does not allow extension of sewer lines from within the UGB, to an area outside the UGB, and does not allow a current system located outside the UGB (LCC's) to be used by a new project. The water main serving the property is undersized for a building of this magnitude. Fire/EMS services are provided by a volunteer rural fire department. The property is adjacent a rural residential neighborhood, consisting of small farms/ranches, where residents raise horses, sheep, poultry, and generally use their properties in a rural nature. !
Furthermore, the State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries identifies the area directly above the site as having the highest hazard rating for earthquakes.

Wetlands: The involved parcel contains 18.4 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, which are part of the "LCC Bottoms" wetlands, as identified by the National Wetlands Inventory, reported in the 1991 LCOG Metropolitan National Resource Study, and identified in the 1996 City of Eugene-LCOG Parks, Open Spaces, and Natural Area Study. In the southwest corner of the site, unauthorized, and undocumented fill has been brought in over the last 15 years. This fill includes unidentified soils, chunks of concrete, chunks of asphalt, railroad ties, tires, metal pipes, and lumber. The site was previously used by a heavy equipment operator training school, so there is a possibility that the grounds were contaminated with diesel, motor oil, hydraulic fluid, and antifreeze. The majority of the site contains standing water, even in July. Soils are problematic on most of the site, with silty clay loam making up half of the site. An assessment of rare plant and animal species commissioned by t!
he Russel Creek Neighbors (RCN) in November of 2000, identified three confirmed rare species including; Cusisk's checkermallow, meadow checkermallow, and Purple Martin. Two additional species, the northern red-legged frog, and the western gray squirrel, are listed as likely occurring. Twenty five other species are rated as possibly occurring.

Noise: By OMD's own description of use, the facility will be busiest during drill weekends, with up to 600 soldiers. Drills usually starts at 7:00 am on Saturday and Sunday, with soldiers departing by 4:30 pm on these days. The combined noise of assembling soldiers, movement, and maintenance of military vehicles, and heavy equipment, and the use of the non-soundproof shooting range, would disturb neighbors, and livestock. Weekends are when LCC is mostly quiet, and when adjacent neighbors want to enjoy the peace and quiet of our rural valley.

Traffic: Residents and users of the Russel Creek Basin already contend with severe traffic congestion during LCC school days. Traffic frequently queues from the entrance to LCC onto Interstate 5, leaving residents, and businesses, prisoners in their own neighborhood. The regional TransPlan has identified the 30th Ave/I-5 area as needing an interchange, but the Oregon Department of Transportation does not have any funds identified for construction. The proposed location of the Armory is within the needed right-of-way to expand the off-ramp system, or construct a freeway interchange. Lane County has refused to provide traffic signal control for intersecting streets, but instead is proposing what is called the "Bloomberg Connector", which would realign McVay Highway to intersect with the east entrance to LCC. Such a by-pass would dissect OMD's property at a place that would have the greatest impact on wetlands, and require acquiring four acres of private property.

Amending Oregon Land Use Laws: The permitted uses of EFU zoned land was specifically amended to allow this project. The law was amended at taxpayer expense by Lane County lobbyist, yet no notice was given to adjacent landowners effected by the change. Many residents of the Russel Creek Basin researched the zoning of adjacent lands prior to purchasing their homes, and felt protected by the EFU designator.

Minimal Public Input: Lane County was originally approached in 1992 by the juvenile justice community to build a Juvenile Justice Center. The bond was passed in 1995, yet residents of the Russel Creek Basin only learned in January 1999 that the involved property was being considered, and had been purchased. In fact documents obtained from OMD include a "Site Construction Feasibility Study", complete with site plan map, done in July of 1997 by WBGS Architecture, showing the preferred site was land immediately east of LCC, and on the south side of 30th Ave.

Expense to Taxpayers: Of the sites recommended by LCOG, this site was selected for it's low cost, and therefore seen as a means of saving taxpayers' dollars. Yet this land's bargain basement price reflects its' inherent limited use. The previous landowner submitted several applications for proposed development, only to be denied.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Write, or call, the Eugene City Council, the LCC Board of Education, and Lane County Commissioners, and Representative Peter DeFazio, and Senator Ron Wyden to voice your concerns regarding this proposed project.

Share this information with your friends and neighbors. To be placed on a mailing list of concerned citizens, contact Ruth Wren, at 344-4263.

Encourage any organizations you, or someone you know, is affiliated with, to write a brief statement supporting the Russel Creek Neighbors, and e-mail it to: russelcn@aol.com

Make a contribution to the Russel Creek legal defense fund. Checks can be made to "RusselCreek Neighbors", and mailed to: PO Box 5003, Eugene, OR 97405

Visit the project web site at: www.mil.state.or.us/Agi-C/eugene/index.htm


 


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