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October 5: Better Streets for People and Businesses

Is Main Street in Springfield safe, practical, and attractive for everyone today or should it be better? With the help of student interns from the University of Oregon, local nonprofit Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation wants to hear from all points of view.

The Better Streets for People and Businesses campaign is focusing on streets that have attracted a lot of public interest. It is intended to forge common ground, ultimately aiming to develop broadly supported recommendations for how to address widely recognized problems.

This past summer, BEST heard from over 600 respondents about Franklin Boulevard adjacent to the University of Oregon. Three-quarters rate the street today as fair, poor, or worst, in many cases detailing problems they have experienced. Only one-quarter rate the street as best or good. Even some of the most vocal critics of the City of Eugene’s plans to build roundabouts concede that there are problems with the street today and it could be better.

BEST executive director Rob Zako will share methods for engaging people where they are, for building trust, and for bringing people together. He welcomes ideas from City Club members on how to constructively engage the Springfield community.

Rob Zako has been working for the last twenty-five years on transportation, land use, and climate change issues. He is the executive director of Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST), which promotes transportation options, safe streets, and walkable neighborhoods.

Previously as a research associate with the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Institute, he explored using the triple bottom line to make transportation and other decisions; examined the efforts of four states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation; and studied how effectively transportation investments are advancing livability and other goals.

As a planner for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, he assisted metropolitan areas reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. As an independent consultant, he led the effort to establish the Lane Area Commission on Transportation (LaneACT). For five years he was the transportation advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon. While a graduate student working on a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Rob met his future wife Kayleen while leading an American Youth Hostels bicycle tour down the Big Sur coast of California.

Empowering Springfield’s Future: Insights from Connected Lane County

Ten years ago, there was a crisis in education in Oregon. The state ranked 49 out of 50 in student graduation rate with, by some measures, under 75 percent of students graduating within five years. The state, through the Department of Education, funded efforts to determine the cause and suggest a solution. Out of that effort came, among other initiatives, the formation of Connected Lane County. This year that organization will serve almost 4,000 youth in efforts to help them find success and a brighter future. Heidi Larwick, the Executive Director of Connected Lane County since 2016, updated City club on the organization’s success, particularly the opening of a new 11,000 square foot center at the Booth Kelly site in downtown Springfield.

Has the program succeeded? Because of the way that the state keeps statistics it is not easy to directly attribute improvements in the graduation rate to Connected Lane County programs, Ms. Larwick pointed to numerous successes which strongly suggest that there has been a positive impact as part of the increase of the graduation rate to 80 percent for the 2021-22 school year.

The first of the organization’s programs, the Elevate effort, seeks to help youth learn about the work environment. Many of the students, which connected Lane County identifies by reaching out to school counselors and teachers, but also to community groups and social service organizations, have no idea what it means to be in a work environment. The Elevate program places them in job shadows during the school year and a more intense program during the summer to help them understand what it is like to be in a work situation. A focus of this effort is to excite them about what they might want to do after graduation, whether it is to enter the work environment immediately or continue with further education.

That program, staff discovered, still missed a significant number of youths. As Ms. Larwick explained, if students don’t understand why they are expected to learn something in school they are more likely to check out. The organization created its Navigate program to address that issue, by identifying youth that had disengaged from the schools and help them to reengage and finish their education with a GED.

Most recently, in 2021 the organization added a third program, the Spark program, which builds upon the two earlier efforts by placing youth in work situations where they can develop some actual job experience in preparation for entering the workforce.

Each of these programs addresses not just the narrow range of skills needed to successfully be employed, but also the wrapround skills needed for broader social success, — how to get housing, how to get food, and other life skills.

Each of these programs tends to focus on the 14-18 age range. To address older youth, in the 18-24 year range, the organization has now developed its Excelerator program which combines the other efforts and focuses on that cohort. It is similar to a pre-apprenticeship program in that the first 150 hours of the 300-hour program provides the participants with skills and then they go to a work experience in a company for the balance of 150 hours.

An important feature of the programs is that participants have the opportunity to be paid. The organization spent over $800,000 last year to provide salaries, at $17 per hour (for participants involved in internships and other situations where youth would be unable to take advantage of the program in the absence of compensation. Ms. Larwick noted that about 10 percent of participants are unhoused.

IN response to a question, Ms. Larwick said that the organization is funded from a wide variety of sources. Originally, the funding came d=solely for the State and the program was housed at the Lane Education Services District. IN 2017 they separated from the ESD and opened a facility in Eugene. Now they have broad support from foundations and businesses and in some cases, contact with outside companies to provide services and products. She specifically noted how they provide laser cutting cervices to the Hult Center and \recently had an arrangement with Columbia Sportswear to repair jackets that had been returned by original purchasers because of failing zippers. At their existing facility in Eugene, they have equipment for laser engraving, desktop cutting equipment for small scale metal fabrication, vinyl cutters, tee shirt presses, sewing machines and sergers. The new Springfield facility will expand on these machines to offer more training experiences and product services and hopes to add equipment for training in welding. The Springfield facility will also have laundry and shower facilities to address the needs of housed participants.


To see the slide presentation offered at the program, click on the Connected Lane County presentation.

To watch the entire program on You Tube, Click Watch the Program.


September 21: Legislative Update

The Oregon Legislative Assembly has concluded its 2023 session and already planning has begun for the 2024 “short” session. The 2023 session was marked by much controversy, particularly surrounding the inability of the State Senate to function for a number of days because it could not achieve a quorum. Springfield City Club has invited three legislators who represent the Springfield area to comment on the previous session and discuss their ideas for moving forward next year.

Floyd was first elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1994. He served in the House of Representatives between 1995 – 2000 and 2003. Floyd was appointed to represent Oregon Senate District 4 in 2003. He was elected in 2004 to complete the current term and has been reelected since 2006.
Floyd graduated from Texas A&M University and later earned a law degree from the South Texas College of Law. An avid cyclist and homebrewer, he lives in Eugene with his wife. During the interim, Floyd works as a municipal prosecutor and serves on various legislative committees, workgroups and commissions.


Charlie Conrad was born in Corvallis, Oregon, and is a third-generation Oregonian. Raised in a career Army family, he grew up living and traveling around the United States and Europe. In 1990, he returned to Oregon to attend Oregon State University, where he earned a BS in Wildlife Management. Later, he returned to school and earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Colorado in 2012.  His career experience includes 23 years of working in public administration and as a volunteer member of various public advisory committees, including the Lane County Planning Commission.

He is serving his first term representing eastern Lane County and is on the Judiciary, Behavioral Health/ Health Care, and Emergency Management, Veterans, and General Government committees.

Charlie lives in Dexter, Oregon, with his wife, Andee.


  • Rep. John Lively grew up in Wallowa Oregon and moved to Springfield when he was a Junior in high school.
  • Graduated from Thurston High School, Lane Community College and University of Oregon
  • Has lived in Springfield over 60 years
  • He served on Springfield City Council and as Mayor of Springfield from 1976-1986
  • Had a long professional career in economic development in Springfield, Eugene and Lane County
  • Elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2013
  • Currently is the Chair of the House Higher Education Committee and House Gambling Regulation Committee; is a member of the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee.

August 3 — Marcola Meadows Development: Successes and Lessons Learned


It’s a remarkable development story. How can a property with a history of failed developments be designed and constructed in the middle of a global pandemic and in the face of significant challenges for fires in the forests? According to Karl Ivanov, the principal developer, and Andy Limbird, the land use planner for the City of Springfield, it depends on trust and flexibility. The City Club program on August 3 was an opportunity to see how this success happened. To view the full program on You Tube, click here: Marcola Meadows

In the center of Springfield sits a 100-acre parcel that had sat unutilized for decades while the owner waited to find the right development opportunity. In 2006 it seemed that the proposal had arrived – a mixed used development anchor by a large retail store. A master plan for that development was approved in 2008, but the collapse of the housing bubble that year doomed the proposal, and the property became bank owned.

In 2012 there seemed to be renewed hope: a proposal to site a federal medical facility surfaced and was vigorously pursued by the City. That proposal did not materialize however, and the property remained dormant, until 2018 when the property was purchased by a new development group.

As anyone who develops in Oregon knows, the state and local development process is complex, and often challenging. The property remained under the original master plan approved in 2008, but the new group had a much different vision for the property – a vision that contemplated much more residential use, and public uses such as a school and a church, with relatively little commercial uses. That makes it even more intriguing that the group purchased the property “as is” with none of the entitlements that it would need to modify the master plan, the land use designations, and the zoning to accomplish their objectives. The process generally moves rather slowly; thus it is no surprise that much work needed to be done on getting the changes needed to make development possible when, in March 2020, the City in essence shut down because of the COVID pandemic. What is a surprise to many is that in the face of that, with City staff working remotely, the developer and the City process over 14 significant land use actions over the next two years.

Equally surprising is that today the group has started or completed 226 single family homes, continues to build at the rate of over six homes per month, is almost a year ahead of schedule and within its planned budget. None of this overlooks that fact that there were real challenges to getting the project underway, including wetlands issues and storm drainage challenges arising from the reality that the land in the development is very flat and does not allow significant infiltration.

That same feature complicated sanitary sewer construction, leading to situations where some wastewater pipes have minimal cover under the streets. Both Mr. Limbird and Mr. Ivanov were very clear that success depended on something that is not too common in develop0emnt – mutual trust between the developer and the governing jurisdiction. Mr. Ivanov, the president and founder of I&E construction, said that his experience in developing projects on a national scale and the staff’s willingness to work with him enabled them to make development decisions “on the fly” without long time intervals for processing. Both Chris Goodell and Monty Hurley, principals in AKS Engineering came to the same conclusion – everyone needed to be able to think outside of the box and come up with solutions which minimized the need for long drawn out reviews. He emphasized how the first phase of residential construction was built under the existing master plan while at the same time the parties were processing plan amendments to adjust for subsequent phases.

Responding to questions, Mr. Ivanov agreed that there have been some challenges dealing with parking issues in the constructed part of the development. He said that much of that can be attributed to so many tradesmen being on the site and that problems should ease once construction is completed next year.

In response to another question h=e said that all the multi-family construction (which will include 312 apartment units), will be all electric, while natural gas can be available in the single-family homes


August 17: Springfield Economic Development Update

Springfield has completed the land assembly process for new development in the riverfront area of Glenwood, according to Economic Development Manager, Allie Camp. In combination with private and public sector partners, the group now controls about 30 acres in the northeast corner of Glenwood and has begun the Master Planning process which will give increased definition to the goals set out in the Glenwood Refinement Plan, she said. That process is expected to take about 18 months. Glenwood, which is an urban renewal area, and the Downtown Urban Renewal Area, which extends to 23rd Street, are the two focus areas for near term economic development. To see the slide presentation at the August 17 City Club, click: Slides. To view the entire program on You Tube, click: August 17 presentation.

Longer term areas of interest include both the North Gateway area, and the region south of 298th Street near the Springfield Mill Race, which were recently brought within the Urban Growth Boundary. Those areas, however, require additional planning work before they can be available for future development. Those efforts are important, however, she said, since at present the City has very few large areas of commercial or industrial buildable land. Right now, she added, most commercial or industrial buildable land is concentrated in very small parcels.

One unfortunate development is the decision to revisit the proposed Blue McKenzie development, which the Springfield Economic Development Agency decided, in June, will not move forward as previously envisioned. SEDA will continue to search for suitable opportunities to bring more housing to downtown. Most of the area of the Downtown Urban Renewal Plan is zoned community commercial, is a very flexible zoning standard. Thus, she said, while other factors may exist to keep property owners from moving to develp0, the question of zoning is not one.

In Glenwood, while not within the master plan area, phase II of the Franklin Boulevard project, which proposes improvements to that street from the west of the current improvements in the direction of the City limits, has reach the 60 percent design level and now awaits efforts to secure additional funding to move it toward completion of design and construction. In response to a question, she said that the residential area of Glenwood, south of Franklin Boulevard, is not part of current development efforts. She reported that the Glenwood Transfer Station is the subject of discussion at the Lane County Board of Commissioners, and that the City is following those discussions closely to see how any action might enhance further Glenwood development.

Describing the City’s economic development program in general, Ms. Camp pointed to three areas. One important aspect of the program is the legislative effort led by Sam Kelly-Quattrocchi, the City’s Legislative and Economic Development Analyst. The aspect addresses both State and federal legislative efforts to secure additional funding for activities which support economic development.


Vahana Horn is the Economic Development Officer and the Property Manager for the City of Springfield. Her economic lens is focused on local and small business, with her concentration area being on the ever-changing landscape of Downtown Springfield. She maintains coinciding Discover Downtown Springfield websites and Facebook pages and leads quarterly business meetups.

The financial engine that drives economic development in the Glenwood and Downtown areas is the ability to use tax increment financing to support development. In both urban renewal areas the tax base was frozen at the time of creation of the urban renewal district and any additional property tax revenue generated is available to SEDA to support economic development activities. The two major uses of that funding are to support debt service which allows the agency to raise capital funds and the use of the tax increment revenue to pay for local systems development charges imposed by the City in the urban renewal areas to reduce the cost of development.


July 6: Come Explore Lane County

The travel and hospitality industry, long a major economic engine in Lane County, has made a substantial rebound as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Andy Vobora, Vice-President for Stakeholder Relations of Travel Lane County. In Fiscal 2020, which ended just as the pandemic exploded, the industry generated about $1 billion. While, he said, it took about a 60 percent hit during the pandemic, it is now emerging, in many cases more quickly than in other areas.

That does not mean the future is free from challenges, he added. Hotels suffered perhaps the most from the shutdown. As they begin to return, visitors will find rates have grown markedly. In addition. The room supply has sharply declined with the loss of the Valley River Inn due to fire, and decisions by Lane County to purchase some facilities, such as the former Red Lion hotel, to provide shelter for homeless residents.

In addition, the industry must deal with the typical winter trough when there are marked reductions in visitors, both in the sports area, as well as tourism in general. Travel Lane County has long supported developing a winter demand generator, such as an indoor facility that could host sporting events to help alleviate that trough as well as serve as a conference center. However, it had been anticipated that a significant portion of the Transient Lodging tax collected by Lane County would go to help support debt service on such a facility. Now, with the County considering whether to divert a significant portion to a new outdoor stadium, that revenue source might not be available for some time.

Travel Lane County uses a wide variety of approaches to try to support the industry. Most of this work is not visible to local residents, because it is directed at attracting visitors from other areas. This includes things like aggressively marketing Lane County and its offerings in the San Fracisco Bay area and other locations where they data they collect suggests that residents there could be interested in traveling to Oregon.

The organization does, however, work to create supportive programs in the area. One example Mr. Vobora pointed to is based on the realization that travelers with disabilities often have significant discretionary income, but need to find destinations that can accommodate them. One local example of that support is a grant program created by Travel Lane County which will support installation of hearing aid loops at the front desks of local hotels.  The agency can fund 80 percent of that cost for an effort that has major implications for travelers with hearing challenges. Travel Lane County is also active in trying to develop uniform access information on handicapped access to trails and other facilities so that visitors can make their own determinations on what they can attempt.

In a similar fashion, the organization is working with groups in the Dexter Lake area to improve infrastructure for an internationally recognized rowing venue to stimulate even further growth. Before the pandemic hit, they were working to create information to help visitors connect that multiple bikeways in the area so that it would be easier to travel on more of them. Now that the pandemic has eased, Mr. Vobora expects that effort will be reactivated.

While the University of Oregon has a substantial program in attracting and supporting athletic events, Travel Lane County is also active in helping to support other sports, like the rowing program and volleyball programs, including a national BMX tournament.

To watch the entire presentation, please click on this link: Travel Lane County Program.

June 1: Willamalane Comprehensive Plan Update

After several months of staff work and extensive public outreach, the staff of Willamalane Park and Recreation District has completed a draft update to the agency’s Comprehensive Plan.

The Plan will be released for public comment on June 19 and, following the one-month comment period, will be prepared for submission to the Willamalane Board for consideration in September. On June 1, Kristina Boe, Senior Planner for Willamalane, and Michael Wargo, the agency’s Executive Director, reviewed the preparation of the draft plan with members of

 Springfield City Club. The public may view the draft plan at The draft plan includes a list of projects that the agency would hope to accomplish in the future, along with a map identifying the project locations. There will be an opportunity to submit comments during the public review period.

The goal of the plan update is to position the agency to meet its defined goals for the next decade. 

Ms. Boe described in some detail the extensive outreach that has already occurred, including surveys, focus groups and direct outreach to many segments of the community. In that process, she said, the staff learned that people prioritize maintenance and safety in both facilities and neutral areas. She noted that among other things, the amount of natural area managed by Willamalane has grown markedly from about 100 acres at the time the plan was last updated in 2012 to over 700 acres today.

An important concern that the staff investigated was the existence of barriers to use of both facilities and trails. Their work disclosed that while about 25 percent of the district area has adequate service, 55 percent has a somewhat lower level of service and about 20 percent has little or no service. The draft maps show barriers to residents reaching service (like roadways and other barriers) so that as projects are developed and considered the agency can focus on removing or reducing those barriers. In particular, she noted the study disclosed that central Springfield has little access to trails, especially soft surface trails. 

The draft also documents a need for closing a gap in service to adults and seniors. She said the agency must adapt to the changing nature of the demographics of the community, both in terms of an aging population and those areas where language barriers to service exist.

Staff work identified that there are now some areas of the Springfield community where expansion has occurred and created places which are outside the Willamalane district boundaries. Mr. Wargo noted that expansion of the district’s boundaries to address that might occur, but doing so will only exacerbate the challenges of providing adequate staffing and other resources.

Ms. Boe said that once the Board of Directors approves the Plan, it must be submitted to both the City of Springfield and to the Lane County Board of Commissioners for approval so that it becomes an official part of the approved long term land use plans for the area.

To view the Facebook feed of the program, click on this link: Willamalane Plan Update

May 18: Public Works Week

Ben Gibson, Springfield Surface Operations Manager with the Operations Division will talk about what PW maintenance is all about and also the various programs that are part of Springfield Operations. He will also talk about the City’s apprenticeship program and how it operates with all the training involved.

Ben Gibson

Ben has been a public employee for the past 23 years.  His career began with the City of Eugene working at the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant while attending school.  He then joined the City of Springfield as a Maintenance Technician Apprentice.  Over the course of 3 years, Ben graduated to Journeyman level and spent the next 4 years performing various tasks such as Emergency Response, Street maintenance and preservation, and sanitary sewer collection system rehabilitation inspections.  Ben’s career progressed to construction inspection with Springfield’s Engineering Division and for the past 6 years has as an Operations Division Supervisor.  Ben was born in Chehalis Washington and moved to Oregon in 1989 and is proud to be a Springfield resident. Ben has 3 wonderful children, he is a former high school football coach, currently his sons little league baseball coach, volunteers as a private security guard, and is one of the newest members of Springfield Twin Rivers Rotary.

April 27: Willamalane Board elections

The City Club of Springfield hosted a candidate forum for the upcoming election of three at-large positions on the Willamalane Park and Recreation district’s board. The candidates for the May election include: incumbent Board President Chris Wig, incumbent Director Greg James, incumbent Director Dr. Johnny Lake, and non-incumbent candidates CJ Mann, Kiersten L. Muenchinger, and Angela Miceli Stout.

Springfield City Club moderated the forum and offered each candidate an opportunity to share their ideas and positions. Each candidate was given an opportunity to submit a statement describing their candidacy. Those statements may be reviewed here: CANDIDATE STATEMENTS. The event took place on April 27 at the Springfield Chamber from 12-1 p.m. View the video by clicking on the link: VIEW FORUM

May 4: Springfield School Board Elections

Two positions are up for election to the Springfield School Board on May 16. Four candidates filed for election to Position 1: Geena Davis, Ken Kohl, Violet Olszyk and Heather Quaas-Annsa. We understand that Ms. Davis and Ms. Quaas-Annsa have withdrawn. Nicole DeGraff and Anthony Reed have filed for Position 4. Springfield City Club invited all candidates to a forum that was held at Noon on May 4 to give the candidates an opportunity to speak to the voters and answer questions. You m ay view thevid3eo of the forum on the City Club
Facebook page at this link: SCHOOL BOARD FORUM.

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