A definition of gentrification is as follows: “The metamorphosis of lower income downtown neighborhoods into prestigious residential and business areas taken up by highly paid residents that brings displacement of the neighborhood’s initial population and businesses.”
Gentrification is taking place across the nation and in downtown Cottage Grove, contributing to our current crisis in affordable housing. Recent development in our downtown has resulted in the displacement of lower income apartment dwellers and small businesses. Buildings are being purchased and beautifully remodeled to the point of unaffordability for established tenants and businesses.
A very recent building purchase is resulting in the displacement of a small business and a family of four, telling them, “You can’t live here forever.” They’re being forced to leave soon.
Interest by the same party in purchasing the apartment building where I and 30 of my beloved friends and neighbors live has made us feel that our settled existence is threatened.
We are business owners, individuals, couples, families, children, seniors, working people serving our community, modest social security recipients and military pensioners. Some of us have lived in the building for 20 and 30 years, some have lived in Cottage Grove all their lives and now have serious health problems. Others volunteer for the benefit of our community.
This is our home. We like it here. Housing outside our town core is prohibitively expensive. Given the current trend, where would we go?
Main Street Cottage Grove is not Park Avenue and life is not a Monopoly game. Every one of us longs for compassion, consideration, respect, security and circumstances that will allow us to live our lives in dignity. May it be so. We deserve and demand it as we face the advance of entrepreneurial ambition.
ARPA Funding Priorities
As per Cottage Grove Sentinel report, our city is receiving over $ 2.3 millions of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding to be used as city sees fit.
This money is funded basically by us, the taxpayers, you and me. Our city leaders compiled a wish list of 13 items for money distribution amounts. Among other items, the city politicians, some, not all, are awarding the largest amount of $ 575,000 to address the homeless and only $400,000 for street reconstruction.
Everyone knows that our streets are in horrible shape and need our immediate attention. Living here for 36 years, I have never seen our streets in such a bad shape. I totally agree with last week’s Sentinel letter written by Linda Olson addressing this ARPA funds allocations regarding the city street repairs and prioritizing the homeless folks. I also agree that some of them with mental health issues need our help.
On the other hand, I observed that the majority of them are able-bodied, usually young people, who just hang around and are expecting the next hangouts paid by taxpayers.
Currently, most of our local businesses are hiring, you may have seen the “Help wanted” signs all over the town, paying at least $14-15 per hour, no experience needed.
I strongly suggest that these homeless people get on their own feet and get a job, and eventually become productive members of our society. I don’t want to see Cottage Grove becoming a destination for transients. We already have Eugene and Portland.
ARPA in Cottage Grove
Cottage Grove City Council has an unparalleled opportunity to help our city when spending “American Rescue Plan” dollars. The city council’s proposed spending tackles some critical projects like the Relief Nursery. One leading principle I want to see encouraged is that spending for any project should impact every citizen in our city.
Relief Nursery is a good one; our children are our future. That is the intention for this unique federal funding. I support the use of this money for Cottage Grove’s many infrastructure issues and secondly to help businesses that can provide employment, training, and support Cottage Grove’s future growth.
One item I want recognized with greater support for its vital importance is “The Health Clinic”. The $100,000 proposed budget is insufficient to show support for a clinic that will add educational opportunities for good paying jobs in health careers and technical education in Cottage Grove. The clinic will also serve the South Lane County area with critically needed sliding-scale dental, medical, and educational services. The clinic should have the highest level of funding.
Downtown revitalization and the ongoing crisis of the unhoused are all important issues, but I believe this federal funding should be used to impact all of Cottage Grove residents; this should be a guiding principle for using ARPA funds. Cottage Grove desperately needs infrastructure investments to help support businesses that provide good paying jobs and reasons for businesses to locate here.
Another consideration for ARPA funds might be to pay off part or all of the current bond that residents still pay each month for their water bill. The bond initiated years ago still negatively impacts all households with excessively high fees for water use. Wastewater projects are important infrastructure investments. Maybe there is an opportunity to solve one problem created years ago with our water treatment facility? There are many more infrastructure issues Cottage Grove faces, pick one or two more please.
I encourage all residents to support our city’s leaders in their many responsibilities for they have a difficult job that too often receives little recognition. Our representatives can only work from what they know. If you don’t provide input to help them make their difficult decisions, they will need to make them for you.
American Rescue Plan dollars should benefit the city of Cottage Grove’s failing infrastructure and provide future opportunities that will positively impact Everyone in Cottage Grove, not just a few. I wish our city leaders best of luck in the task ahead. It is a big opportunity for us all.