Community members address ice, parks and peace during Jan. 16 city council meeting

The Corvallis City Hall building is located downtown on Madison Avenue. OMN archive taken Feb. 2020. 
The Corvallis City Hall building is located downtown on Madison Avenue. OMN archive taken Feb. 2020. 
By Brittnee Barry, OMN Archives

A virtual city council meeting was held on Tuesday night as icy conditions in Corvallis saw city government buildings in a continued closure.

Topics of the meeting included updated plans for renovations to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in west Corvallis, testimonies of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia by community members and discussions of the weekend’s inclement weather.

Beginning Friday night, precipitation and below freezing temperatures left a thick blanket of ice over the city of Corvallis, leading to hazardous road conditions and closures of many city and Oregon State University campus services and locations. 

Over a span of four days, a majority of the city’s roadways remained iced-over, with fallen trees and large scale power outages being reported across the area.

Operations of the Corvallis Transit System were ceased and residents were encouraged to stay home unless absolutely necessary. 

During the meeting, many city council members, including Mayor Charles Maughan, expressed their appreciation for local first responders who had worked through the inclement conditions.

According to a statement by Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard, the icy weekend saw nearly double the average number of emergency calls to the Corvallis Fire Department. 

“On Sunday, (the Corvallis Fire Department) ran 62 calls in a 24-hour period and their normal average is around 30,” Shepard said.

As reported by Shepard, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center saw severe staff shortages over the weekend with more than 100 staff members calling out of work. Partnerships were made across agencies to fill this gap, with the Benton County Search and Rescue department bringing medical staff to the hospital and the fire department readying medic units at the location.

Corvallis resident Brennan Colberg spoke to the council during the community comments portion of the meeting with questions posed about the snow and ice and what plans the city has to combat future weather events of a similar nature. 

“I’ve lived in the past in the Midwest, in Utah and in Seattle and days after a storm I’ve never (seen) the roads be this bad,” Colberg said.

Mayor Maughan responded to Colberg’s comments, citing efforts by the public works department to maintain certain roads and the city’s access to limited equipment. 

“Weather is changing and we’re going to deal with more extremities in the future,” Maughan said, claiming that conversations on the topic would be held with the city manager moving forward.

Beyond conversations of weather response, citizen comments surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict and instances of anti-Semitism within the Corvallis community took center stage during the meeting.

Since December, the Corvallis City Council has deliberated supported for a peace resolution in regards to the war in Gaza, though the resolution has faced scrutiny from both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel supporters.

Multiple Jewish community members spoke before the council on Tuesday, with many expressing concerns over safety and acceptance as they cited what they believe is a rise of anti-Semitism in Corvallis.

“For the first time living here in Corvallis, I am personally afraid. The doors to my synagogue are locked and armed guards are hired to protect us during many services. My home does not feel as safe,” said Amy Buccola, Corvallis resident of over 40 years.

Another Jewish community member, Kim Vega, addressed the rhetoric within the peace resolution and claimed community comments made at the previous meeting held on Jan. 2 should be deemed as anti-Semitic.

“The council should educate themselves on what anti-Semitic hate speech is, so that no endorsement of a position that is sent to higher levels of government contains words that mimic the hate speech that I heard here, at the Jan. 2 meeting,” said Vega. 

Fears over growing tensions relating to the Israel/Palestine conflict were also shared by community members Sarah Siddiqui and Aubrey Cloud who urged the council to adopt a resolution that supports Palestinians.

“Council members, you have community members who don’t feel safe in Corvallis anymore,” Siddiqui said. “There’s been no acknowledgment of the Islamophobia in our own community by those in elected positions.”

Cloud promoted an adoption of a resolution in-line with the language used by the Corvallis Palestine Solidarity and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights groups which have both testified at previous city council meetings.

Progress on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park enhancement project was also mentioned during the virtual meeting.

Early mock-ups for the space were presented by Parks and Recreation Director Meredith Petit and included a connected trail system, sports and fitness area and community meeting areas among other features.

The park hopes to include Black, Indigenous and people of color and emerging artists through a number of art and interpretive installations throughout the grounds “aimed to amplify the mission of Dr. King’s fight against social injustice,” Petit said.

The project has reportedly received over five million dollars in state-funded grants, leaving it only $750,000 away from its goal budget. Construction on the park is aimed to begin in the summer of 2025.

Was this article helpful?
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Daily Barometer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *