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ACCESS TO BOISE PROPERTY: THE SOLUTION

ACCESS TO BOISE PROPERTY: THE SOLUTION

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Published by Geoffrey James
A proposal and plan for safe access to the Boise property, including the area west of the railroad tracks.
A proposal and plan for safe access to the Boise property, including the area west of the railroad tracks.

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Published by: Geoffrey James on Sep 01, 2013
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09/02/2013

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ACCESS TO THE BOISE PROPERTY
 August 31, 2013
 
Geoffrey James A.I.A. Architect
 4676 Commercial St. S.E., Suite 8, Salem, Oregon 97302 503-931-4120 gjamesarchitect@gmail.com
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THE ACCESS REQUEST
 Access to the proposed apartments, west of the tracks, has been requested through Riverfront Park.The public " is outraged at the idea of pushing a private access road through the Carousel parking lot,reducing these standard 9 x 19 parking spaces to narrow compact car spaces.
CONGESTION
ODOT engineers and knowledgeable people testified that the State Street intersection is dangerous,congested, and an accident waiting to happen. Adding 400 additional vehicle trips per day from aprivate development, that wants to use the park as its entrance, would be irresponsible. These aresmall children arriving at the Carousel and the Rotary Playground. It is already a traffic problem. Adding to the traffic with non-park users, and reducing the parking spaces to small cars makes a badsituation critically worse.
THE SOLUTION: THE SOUTH ACCESS
Fortunately, there is a good alternative.The attached aerial photo map shows there is
an existing access road
to the proposed SloughParking, i.e. west of the tracks, from Bellevue St. Councilor Nanke asked about this. Applicant saidthey prefer not because (1) it is a longer entrance drive and (2) it requires a bridge, which adds extracost. Brad noted that they already show a proposed bridge over Pringle Creek. This idea would either relocate that proposed bridge, or add another. As far as cost is concerned, it is not like bridging theSlough. Say the access driveway is 20 ft. wide (as was proposed from the north) and we need asimilar 4 ft. sidewalk, that is a 24 ft. wide bridge. That can be accomplished by three semi truckdeliveries. By that I mean three precast concrete "Tee Beams" that are typically 8 ft. wide, by say 65ft. long, and maybe 5 ft. deep in a double tee profile. Each of the three beams would be transportedby flat bed truck, and the beams lifted into position by a mobile crane, in one day, on to concreteabutments. Yes, it would cheaper to restripe the public park's parking lot, but that would beirresponsible.
THE PROPOSED ACCESS
The attached aerial map shows the Pringle Square complex entrance to be at Bellevue SE. You turnright to enter the Mixed Use development of the old mill, with parking at its lower levels, andcommercial leased retail office space above, and residential units above, and added on the south(Bellevue) side. You drive straight ahead and cross the tracks at that existing railroad crossing anddrive through the Slough parking lot. Location of the proposed bridge (see above) will be where itneeds to connect to the apartment interior parking lots, so maybe close to the tracks. That solves the Access Issue, and still allows the apartment development to proceed.
THE PROPOSED LAND SWAP ?
 As the Mayor pointed out, the previous proposal from the applicant, was to offer to greatly enlarge theCarousel Parking (.e. the Riverfront Park Parking) by extending the parking lot into the BoiseProperty. In answer to questions from the Mayor the applicant said "that is now off the table". Thecurrent proposal adds more apartment units, and into the area that was to be the land swap" or enlarged park parking. They admitted that the new proposal just adds seven (7) compact car spaces,in exchange for them violating the park and shrinking down the Carousel spaces.
IS THE APARTMENT DEVELOPMENT TOO LARGE FOR ITS SITE ?
It was observed that the apartment windows are just 20 ft. from the park boundary, e.g. on the westside. This is standard code buffer requirement for apartments built next to a neighborhood park. But
 
ACCESS TO THE BOISE PROPERTY
 August 31, 2013
 
Geoffrey James A.I.A. Architect
 4676 Commercial St. S.E., Suite 8, Salem, Oregon 97302 503-931-4120 gjamesarchitect@gmail.com
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the Eco Earth and the Pedestrian Bridge entrance needs more park space around it. The solutionwould be an increased landscaped buffer, i.e. setting the apartment walls and windows further backbehind a landscaped strip.
WAS THE PROCESS BACKWARDS ?
Normally a developer ensures he has ACCESS first, before proceeding with detailed designs. The"Team" were so anxious to take up council time by talking at length (a series of consultants) about thedetailed design of the apartments. The Mayor was right that the basic question to start with is ACCESS and explain why the access through the park is claimed to be the only way. However, in thiscase, the applicant proceeded with detailed Site Plan Review etc. BEFORE confirming access. Theyshould have confirmed that a NORTH access was permitted before hiring an expensive team of consultants to do as detailed design, possibly ready for building permit processing. A very backwardsway of project management, but possibly a high stakes poker game, i.e. having a developmentdesigned and ready to go, assuming the Chamber could help them get a park access anyway. Theydid not count on the Public being awake, enlightened, and perceptive. They will not get away with thatploy. There
IS
access available, in a way that the Carousel and Riverfront Park is not violated.
THE VIEWS OF THE RIVERFRONT
When the Convention Center was built the Mayor and community leaders remarked that the View of the Riverfront was very important, and the sooner the old triangular Boise Warehouse was removed,the better. Well, it WAS removed. However, now replacement buildings are planned, a 3 story wall of apartments, a nursing home, a high rise office building, and other structures. It's like the Rose TestGardens in SW Portland that used to have a view of Mt. Hood. Then the KOIN Center skyscraper wasbuilt, and exactly blocks Mt Hood from those admiring the roses. Same thing here. When a visitor looks out from the second floor of the Convention Center towards the adjacent Riverfront Park, their view is now to be blocked by a wall of new buildings. Vistas or visual easements are really thesolution, and our city planners or urban designers should be ensuring these views are protected.
HISTORICAL NOTE
in 1974, Peter Courtney was on the City Council, and the author was on the Planning Commission.Folks were talking about the possibilities if Boise Cascade ever moved, plus connecting three parks,a Riverfront Park to Wallace Marine and a Minto-Brown Island. The author created an urban designplan and rendering called "Riverfront 2000" and was invited to the annual Council Goals Session,which was focused on transforming the industrial riverfront into a park. The author had just come fromSpokane, where we did the same thing, but using a World's Fair, i.e. Expo 74, to make it happen. Theold industrial buildings were removed. The railroad was actually relocated "around" downtown. FrontStreet became a boulevard. 16 blocks of downtown were connected by the "Skywalk", i.e. sky bridgesand 2nd. Floor route through blocks and buildings, from retail stores, to bank lobbies, and officebuildings. It has become a tourist attraction. Moving to Salem in 1974 the author saw the samepossibilities here, i.e. a Riverfront Park and a Skywalk system, so joined several City committees.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The attached map shows that access to the "west of the tracks" development should be from theexisting access road from the south.
Council should DENY the proposed access through the Carousel lot, for the reason statedabove, i.e. safety, congestion, and adverse impact on the park users.
There is good access to the property (see the map), and the park should be protected, and enhancedat every opportunity. No violation of our Riverfront Park should be permitted.

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