Author: Don Upjohn

The ARCHES Project Relocates

The ARCHES Project, an operating division of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, Inc., (MWVCAA) recently moved from its old site on Madison St. NE to a much larger building at 615 Commercial St. NE at the northwest corner of the intersection of Union and Commercial streets. ARCHES is a center to provide services such as meals, day room, emergency supplies and telephone to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Planned renovations will allow the center to add laundry and showers to its services. The project also has a housing program which includes placement, support and education. The two-story building is...

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Bike Sharing Coming to Town

Go to Salem Riverfront Park some weekend and watch the many cyclists cross the Courtney Bridge and head off towards Minto Park. It looks like great fun; at least that is what Evan Osborne thinks. He is so convinced that he and others have formed a nonprofit corporation, Osborne Adventures, to bring bike sharing to Salem. The project, based in part on a similar program in Corvallis, intends to encourage both recreational riding and commuting around the city. Osborne and his group are negotiating with the city to place 6 to ten bike stations throughout the city core where...

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Friendly Critters Found Around Salem

As a city with a pioneer past and a political present, Salem has its share of statues; stern ministers, noble settlers, and an occasional politician dot our parks, along with a bevy of new abstracts works often funded by our tax dollars – colorful but often confusing. Yet, lurking here and there are a number of critters who seem to “get it” with a smile and a dash of whimsy. Salem Weekly presents a few snaps for your pleasure. Often hidden, our friends require a little searching, so note the locations. Pay them a visit, they’re worth it. Some...

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THE ARTIST, THE LOOKING GLASS AND OUR TOWN -A REFLECTION

      The Library of America, publisher of many of the great works of American literature, recently issued as Volume 281 The Complete Orsinia, a collection of works by Ursula Le Guin of Portland. The volume includes a novel and related stories from the first half of her career. More volumes are to come. This distinct honor enshrines Le Guin’s work as part of America’s literary canon and when combined with a Distinguished Contribution medal from the National Book Award and a feature in the October 17th edition of The New Yorker establishes her as one of Oregon’s most celebrated authors.        Her fame came first as a writer of science fiction but her work is broader than the genre and includes fantasies like A Wizard of Earthsea, the influential novel The Left Hand of Darkness, historical novels and poetry. Perhaps her most famous piece is the disturbing tale The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, first published in 1973 and since frequently anthologized and discussed in literature classes around the world.        The parable describes the mythical city of Omelas set by the sea; it is summer festival. People wear robes but also ride trains. They enjoy spacious parks and listen to sweet notes of a child playing a wooden flute. There are no soldiers and no kings. Yet this happy existence comes...

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Salem CITY TO CONSIDER CODE CHANGES FOR SHORT-TERM RENTALS

Airbnb and other short term commercial homesharing websites are operating in Salem. Airbnb’s Salem website claims that 148 rooms are available in its system for the Salem area.  In light of this activity the city is drafting code changes to allow small-scale short-term commercial lodging in residential zones subject to a licensing program that is designed to preserve existing neighborhood amenities. The code revisions will be presented in a public hearing to the Salem Planning Commission at its regular meeting on March 7th at 5:30 pm in the City Council Chambers in City Hall, 555 Liberty St. SE. Current Salem law only allows a bed and breakfast as a short-term rental in a single-family residential zone pursuant to a conditional use permit. This is a cumbersome and expensive procedure that does not provide the flexible authorization generally preferred by homeshare programs like Airbnb. As a result many current homeshare operations are not in compliance with city law. According to Bryce Bishop, the city planner heading the code revision project, the new system will allow a broader and clearer setting for commercial homesharing operations as part of a licensing program which includes other regulations designed to protect neighborhood standards and fairness with other commercial operators. The proposed system, based on those used in other cities such as Eugene and Portland, will include annual licensing, limits on the number of rooms...

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DOWNTOWN SALEM A NEW RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD?

Before World War II Salem had a number of stately homes and apartments spread throughout its core. After the war, developers tried to extend the tradition of core-living with the Lee Apartments, at 585 Winter Street NE, a seven-story tower with 101 units built in 1951. But the 1950s brought the flight to the suburbs; single-family ranch houses proliferated. New apartments were built on the city’s fringe. Downtown died as a residential neighborhood. Things stagnated from the 1970s through the 1990s, although in 1974 the city built Robert Lindsey Tower at 370 Church Street SE, an 11-story, 62-unit apartment complex dedicated to public housing. Moreover, the City Urban Development Department launched a discussion of the value of core residences and, more importantly, Riverfront Park was acquired and developed to enhance the appeal of downtown living. In the early 21st century, efforts intensified. Developers, following national trends, initially tried condominiums with varied results. For 295 Church Street NE, a mixed-use project with two floors of commercial space and 27 residential units,  their opening in 2008 was a success. The Meridian at 777 Commercial Street was built in 2010 with nearly 100 residential units and a spacious commercial area. The condominium format did not work, and after a change in ownership it now offers 85 luxury rental units. Currently it has only a handful of vacancies. The other condominium project from...

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A new park and what came before

On a beautiful evening in September, Salem Hospital held a grand opening of a new playground on the northeast corner of Mission and Church Streets. It was a festive occasion before dignitaries,  employees, families, friends and a batch of young children squealing as they used the novel and educational playground equipment – not see-saws, rather we-saws; not monkey bars, but dome bars –all while gobbling ice cream, cupcakes and other goodies.       If the opening of the new playground, named “Let’s ALL Play Place,” went smoothly… that was not always the case. As they say over in...

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Running Away To Salem

Not very promising is it to run away to Salem. Will it solve anything? Yet on a drizzly November day in 1938 a young man, call him Frank, in the throes of repeating his senior year in high school, with his little sister in hand, caught a bus in Tacoma and headed south to refuge. Things were falling apart at home. Money was tight. The folks were fighting; divorce loomed. Frank feared for the welfare of his five year old sister Pat. Salem and the home of his maternal aunt Violet looked attractive. Violet quickly settled the crisis. Pat was returned to her parents. Frank stayed in Salem. He enrolled in Salem High School and joined the Clarion, the school paper. While not a good student, the kid could write.  At Lincoln High in Tacoma he had had a column in the paper. He’d been a copyboy at the Tacoma Ledger. He even wrote a western story, sold it to a publisher and received $27.50 in cash for his efforts. Frank did not leave many tracks at Salem High. He is pictured along with other members of the Clarion in the annual but enrolled too late to have his senior portrait included. In the group picture he is one of 20 or so; his face is blank under a pile of light brown hair. Wearing a nondescript white shirt,...

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