Public Works Director Scott Fleury has been informed that ODOT is reviewing the access control permit information compiled for FHWA to allow for an emergency access route from North Mountain Avenue to I5. ODOT is also working on the required environmental paperwork for the project.This will likely fall under the categorical exclusion process, but due diligence is still needed for the report to FHWA. Approval is estimated for August. After approved, ODOT crews may be able to cut in the access road with asphalt grindings and potentially further improve the surface with paving and other enhancements next year.
Emergency Shelter On-Track to Move Ahead
The Emergency Solutions Grant sub grantee contract has been completed and the City is moving forward with the purchase of ten pallet shelters. Rogue Retreat has agreed to lease the Calvary Baptist church property for use through June 2022. Rogue Retreat will operate a 49-occupant shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness being housed either inside the existing building or within ten individual Pallet Structures located on the property. Should additional Pallet Structures become available over the one-year period of operation, Reserve locations for up to 10 additional Pallet Structures with a corresponding reduction in the number of individuals housed within the building.
Rogue Retreat staff will provide 24-hour supervision of the shelter. The premises would be fully fenced and gated, with a front gate which will close at 9 p.m. each night and opens again at 6 a.m. each morning. Porta Potties and hand wash stations located outside of the building. Rogue Retreat will provide a van to shuttle people to and from the Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) Center located at 2350 Ashland Street, to access showers and other services, and to the nearest bus stop for transit services. All occupants will be by referral and not selected on a first come first serve basis, and no referrals will be made on site.
Rogue Retreat will utilize the building including the kitchen for the preparation and storage of food and beverages for the occupants of the shelter. In addition to accommodating up to 39 shelter beds, the building will provide office space for on-site management staff and case management services for housing, financial, vocational, and educational services provided for the residents of the non-congregate shelter in cooperation with outside partner agencies. The interior of the building may be occasionally utilized for temporary shelter for the occupants of the Pallet Structures only as necessary for relief from emergent hazards as they arise, such as in cases of hazardous air quality, excessive heat, or freezing temperatures.
Currently Rogue Retreat is working toward hiring staff for the campground, and anticipates an opening date in September.
Line Clearance Tree Trimming
The Electric Department has increased our focus on vegetation management in the right of ways. Right of way vegetation management is important to the utility for system reliability to reduce the number of outages, and to reduce the risk of power lines causing wildfires.
With the fire danger risk levels currently being extreme, the Electric Department has invested in battery operated and hydraulic operated saws and other equipment for vegetation management work, that will be used nearly exclusively to reduce risk.
Earlier in 2021, tree trimming efforts were hampered by equipment and personnel downtime. Presently, the Department has dedicated two crews to tree trimming for the next two months to assure trimming is back on schedule.
The direction to the crew leaders is to trim the trees away from the overhead power lines for a three years growth period. This will not be possible in every situation, but the City is fortunate to have very knowledgeable staff working on these crews who can make those determinations as needed.
The most important consideration will always be safety for staff, citizens, and the community.
Some residents may see the trimming as excessive, particularly in areas where trimming has fallen behind the three-year cycle. Staff will make every effort to maintain the vitality of trees, for years to come.
If it becomes necessary to utilize gas-powered equipment, the direction given is to plan for itís use before noon and to keep watch on the area after use for at least an hour. Both crews are also equipped with basic firefighting tools and backpack style water cans.