Summer Roadwork: Construction, caution signs and detours

Whether navigating from the city to the coast, east toward I-5 or just around town, Corvallis drivers may face delays and detours this summer. On Hwy. 20 east of the Van Buren Bridge, construction continues on a multi-use path north of the highway and on an expansion of the south bypass intersection. Maintenance projects are planned for other parts of the city as well. In the mountains around Eddyville, work is proceeding on the Hwy. 20 bypass, which is still scheduled to open to traffic in 2016.

The June 8 City Club meeting will focus on these and other projects and offer attendees a chance to ask questions about lane closures, detours, traffic coordination and future road work. Speakers will include Jerry Wolcott, project leader with the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Greg Gescher, Corvallis city engineer.

Wolcott leads planning for ODOT’s Corvallis field office and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees (business administration, industrial relations) from the University of Oregon. Gescher received his civil engineering degree at Oregon State and has a master’s in business administration from Cal State Fullerton.

The meeting is open to the public. City Club meets in the Gerding Builders Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. Lunch is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Registration is necessary only if you are having lunch. Send e-mail to, with "City Club June 8" in the subject line, by June 5.

Annual Meeting

Members of the Corvallis City Club will gather at 5 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015, at the Del Alma restaurant banquet room to elect officers and a board for the coming year. Registration is requested by 5 pm Friday, May 15, by sending email to

A slate of candidates will be proposed to the members. Openings currently exist for secretary and the chair of the logistics committee. The secretary takes minutes at monthly board meetings, and the logistics chair, preferably a member of the board, arranges for meals and set up at the club's public meetings.

A tentative agenda for the meeting is as follows:
5:00 Social gathering
5:30 Call to order. Opening remarks from the president.
5:40 Brief reports on finances, programs, logistics and membership
5:50 Discussion of program topics for the coming year
6:20 Q&A
6:30 Adjourn 

Meeting the Housing Needs of Older Adults: What Will It Take?

Oregon's population of people 65 and older is growing. By 2025 the state is expected to have the nation's fourth highest proportion of older adults, according to the National Institute on Aging. And by some estimates, Benton County alone may see an increase of 5,000 people in this age category in the next 10 years.

Accompanying this trend will come a housing challenge: Can Corvallis provide housing for older people with a variety of needs? Some may require round-the-clock nursing care or occasional assistance with daily tasks. But others may prefer independent living in safety and close proximity to friends and a diverse community.

There is growing interest in our country — and here in Corvallis — in creating more options for senior housing. The benefits of living within a small community in clustered or shared housing could help many to delay or avoid the high expenses of moving into a large retirement home or assisted living facility.

Does Corvallis have what it takes to meet the housing needs of this growing segment of our population? What are the costs of different levels of care? Does city zoning provide the kind of flexibility that may be necessary to find creative solutions to the housing needs of older adults?

At the May 11 Corvallis City Club meeting, three speakers will address these and other questions. Jim Moorefield, Executive Director, Willamette Neighborhood Housing; Lorene Hales, Administrator, Corvallis Caring Place; Jim Noel, member of the Over 65 Housing group of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis.

The meeting is open to the public. City Club meets in the Gerding Builders Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. Lunch by Baja Fresh is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Registration is necessary only if you are having lunch. Send e-mail to, with "City Club May 11" in the subject line, by May 8.

See a statistical breakdown of Oregon's population age 65 and older.
This 51,000-square-foot senior housing project in Hawaii includes 96 one-bedroom units,  a common building with mail, laundry and activity areas and community gardens. (Source: Media5 Architecture)

Should we ban GMOs in Benton County?

Benton County voters will decide in May whether or not to approve a proposed ordinance prohibiting the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in the county and banning the use of genetically modified organisms. Measure 2-89, the Local Food System Ordinance of Benton County, Oregon, asserts rights to natural communities, such as soils and water resources, and to a sustainable agricultural system free from any influence by genetically modified organisms.

The measure absolves Benton County residents from any liability for the “inadvertent infection” of crops by GMOs or other patented traits. It requires that any plantings of GMOs crops in the county be removed within 90 days of the passage of the ordinance and empowers citizens and the Benton County Commission to enforce the law.

While Oregon State University officials have stated that the proposal may affect all research with GMOs at the university, proponents of the measure contend that only GMOs planted in open fields would be covered.

Among the questions to be discussed:
1. What are the legal foundations for the conflicting interpretations of impact on OSU research?
2. How does the ordinance define the rights of natural communities, and how will those rights be enforced?
3. How are disputes between farmers currently resolved?
4. How many acres are planted to GMO crops in Benton County?
5. What are the costs of banning GMOs, and what are the costs of allowing them to exist in proximity to conventional crops?
6. Does the proposed ordinance apply to other parts of the local food system?

Speakers will include Rich Holdren, Oregon State University Research Office; Debbie Crocker, Benton County farmer; Clint Lindsey, former Benton County farmer and co-author of measure 2-89; and Mary King, Benton Food Freedom.

PLEASE NOTE: This City Club meeting will be held at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library from 7 to 9 pm on Monday, April 27. Attendance is free and open to the public, and there is no need to register. Speakers will have up to seven minutes for an opening statement followed by a question-and-answer period. 

Where We Live: Housing for Corvallis

A recent letter writer to the Gazette Times summed up the state of a proposed housing development in Corvallis this way: the wrong housing in the wrong place at the wrong time. The proliferation of apartment complexes, especially for Oregon State University’s growing student population, has sparked opposition. Objections often cited include noise, parking, losses of natural areas, increases in traffic and changing neighborhoods.

However, college students are not the only market for new housing in the city. Retirees, low- to middle-income working families and people living in poverty challenge the ability of Corvallis to provide housing that meets current needs. Projections of future population growth for the Willamette Valley suggest there may be no relief in sight.

As we grapple with one proposed development after another, what is our long-term vision for housing? What do alternatives mean for the environment and for current residents? What do they mean for those who can afford to live here and those who cannot? What did the City’s recent survey of “affordable” housing show? What did it leave out? How do our land-use regulations shape current and future housing options? How much buildable land is left?

At the April 13 City Club meeting, three speakers will address these and other questions in the first of a series of discussions about this difficult topic: Brigetta Olson, Mike Beilstein and Brian Stroup.

Brigetta Olson is the deputy director of Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services. She develops and manages programs designed to help low-income individuals and families build personal and financial assets; lead healthy, productive lives; and develop their potential as involved citizens.

Mike Beilstein represents Ward 5 on the Corvallis City Council, on which he served from 1999-2000 and from 2007 to the present. He also served on the steering committee for the recent City Council-initiated Housing Study.

Brian Stroup is the associate director for University Housing and Dining Services at Oregon State University.

The meeting is open to the public. City Club meets in the Gerding Builders Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. Lunch by Pastini Pasteria is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Registration is necessary only if you are having lunch. Send e-mail to, with "City Club April 13" in the subject line, by April 10.

What Matters About Living in Corvallis?

On March 9, 2015, 50 people participated in facilitated conversations at the invitation of the Corvallis City Club and the League of Women Voters. Attendees addressed two questions:
1. What matters about living in Corvallis?
2. What do you want the community to be like in 20 years?

Below is a collection of responses grouped by common topics. Responses reflect only the variety of comments recorded at each table. There was no attempt to evaluate them or reach agreement among participants.

The meeting was moderated by Peggy Joyce, member of the board of Leadership Corvallis. The comments were compiled by Nick Houtman, member of the City Club program committee.


·      Corvallis has a cooperative community spirit.
·      People volunteer with service organizations that benefit the community.
·      Locally raised food is available at the farmers market and Co-op.
·      Corvallis has a strong environmental movement with a focus on sustainability and organic food.
·      The community is still small enough for citizens to have a voice and effect change.
·      Corvallis is a safe community, a good place to raise a family.
·      Corvallis is a good size, a small city with services and amenities.
·      Corvallis has good local newspapers.
·      Corvallis has a compact “real downtown.”
·      Traffic is favorable compared to other communities.
·      The fareless bus system helps people get around.
·      Corvallis is a quiet city.
·      Corvallis has a mild climate.
·      People have pride in Corvallis.

·      Corvallis has access to an excellent public library and opportunities in the community and at the university; local arts (visual and performing) and sports.

·      Corvallis has a well-educated citizenry and a high tolerance for ideas.
·      Corvallis has good schools.

·      Locally owned businesses provide lots of shopping opportunities.
·      Corvallis is not dominated by big-box stores.

Health care
·      Corvallis has access to high-quality medical care.

·      Corvallis has high-quality drinking water.
·      Corvallis has exceptional public safety departments — police, fire.

·      Corvallis has access to hiking trails and natural areas (Greenbelt Land Trust)
·      Corvallis is easy to get around by bike and by foot.
·      Corvallis has access to the Willamette and Marys Rivers.
·      Corvallis has good local fitness opportunities.


·      Promote diversity in leadership positions.
·      Welcome the growing Hispanic community.
·      Develop a stronger local government — better planning for new development.
·      Develop more engagement opportunities for young people.
·      Reject sprawl in favor of higher density development.
·      Enable people to live where they work.
·      Strengthen the connection between local agriculture and the city.
·      Create more of an even playing field for OSU/Corvallis relations.

·      Develop more diverse musical opportunities and support for the arts.
·      Hold more activities at the riverfront.
·      Promote architectural cohesiveness downtown.
·      Develop more indoor activities for children.
·      Build an amphitheater on the Willamette River.
·      Make local investments in cultural events and facilities.

·      Increase support for local schools.

·      Develop a diverse business community (private and nonprofit) providing jobs and living wages.
·      Locate more business services (especially a grocery store) in south Corvallis.
·      Close the fiberglass plant.
·      Use permaculture approach to local food production.
·      Increase the use of solar electricity.
·      Develop more local jobs and a stronger local economy.
·      Build a faster fiber-optic communications network.

Health care
·      Offer greater choice in medical care.

·      Use a “smart growth” approach to development, including a variety of housing (such as the Pringle Creek Community in Salem) based on the principles of “green” development.
·      Foster increased density, mixed uses (commercial and residential space), walkability.
·      Build more “affordable” housing.
·      Build more housing to serve the needs of local people.
·      Make a variety of senior living arrangements available.
·      Corvallis needs a sustainable solution to homelessness.

·      Develop rail service to Portland and plan for high-speed rail.
·      Build a parking garage downtown.
·      Improve public transit in Corvallis and the regional transportation network.
·      Make more parking available at OSU, including remote parking lots.
·      Build wider bike lanes with more separation from cars/trucks.
·      Reconfigure some streets without parking.
·      Buses should run on Sunday and later in the evenings during the week.
·      Reduce our dependence on cars.
·      Install a light rail system between OSU and downtown.

·      Protect natural features such as wetlands.
·      Respond to climate change and the likelihood of people moving here from elsewhere — “climate refugees.”

·      Improved mass transit
·      Affordable housing
·      Economic development
·      Liveability through the support for the arts and culture
·      Population diversity through the practice of inclusiveness
·      Green space and wetland preservation
·      Support for local business
·      Sustainable solution to homelessness
·      County context for future planning
·      More downtown parking
·      Alternative energy, especially solar
·      Support for education, K-16
·      Better integration of north and south Corvallis
·      Expansion of this kind of grassroots conversation