By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Mac council approves gateway ordinance

Taylor said the Legislature had received a lot of media criticism for “not doing anything.” He said, “You can argue that they should have done more, but they did do something.”

The council approved an ordinance creating a planned development overlay for the Northeast Gateway area, awarded a contract to purchase a new mowing machine, and received, in written form only, a report on the city’s response to a tornado that struck Alpine Avenue in early June.

The hearing on the development overlay drew testimony from only one person, Margaret Legard, who with her husband, Gerald, owns Buchanan Cellers. She served on the advisory committee for the Northeast Gateway.

Generally speaking, Legard said, she supports the overlay. But she did share some concerns.

One reason downtown McMinnville works so well, she told the council, “is that it is a pedestrian area.” But she noted, the city also provides parking lots to accommodate drivers.

“I think it is very important that the Northeast Gateway have some significant city-provided parking and on-street parking,” she said.

City Planner Doug Montgomery said the city agrees, and has marked land for public parking as one of its urban renewal goals.

It won’t necessarily happen soon, he said. The plan encompasses some 20 or 30 years, and funding is often slow to develop in renewal districts.

Legard also urged the city to be mindful of the needs of low-income renters currently living in the Northeast Gateway area, as it attempts to renovate and improve the area. With that, the council unanimously approved the ordinance.

Response from police and fire, Public Works and Water & Light crews to buildings damaged by the June tornado generally went well, a report on the incident said.

The emergency created an ideal opportunity for the city to test its emergency response. No one was injured, but workers did search damaged buildings to ensure no one was trapped inside.

While the response went well overall, inevitably, the incident turned up a few issues, the report said.

For example, workers in charge of traffic control turned away Water & Light employees trying to get in to help clear away downed power lines. They will be trained to distinguish between needed volunteers and other members of the public in the future, it said.

Sightseers were an unexpected problem.

“Pedestrians were sightseeing all over the site while some of the Water & Light hazardous operations were taking place,” the report said, and “numbers of citizens driving through to see the damage was unanticipated. There were discussions among the group in cordoning off the entire area in future incidents until all safety issues are addressed.”

There also were numerous media inquiries to field.

“Press continued to inundate YCOM with phone calls,” the report said. “A public information officer was established, but was on the scene dealing with the on-scene media until the recovery phase started.”

The report also noted, “Elected officials were not notified as soon as we would have liked.” That will be corrected, it said.

“The need for access to initial and additional damage assessment trained personnel was discussed,” the report states. “While not a major issue in this incident, it did create a concern in the event of a more significant event and our capabilities to conduct damage assessment.”

In other business, the council awarded a contract for a large rotary mower, to replace a 1993 model, to Western Equipment at $55,100.

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