CITY MAKING VALUABLE INVESTMENT DOWNTOWN

September 06, 2001 11:00 pm

Its good to see La Grande stepping forward to eliminate the seven-year blight thats existed downtown in the form of the burned-out Bohnenkamp Interiors property.

Owner Bob Bohnenkamp has agreed to accept the citys offer of $55,500 for the parcel on Adams Avenue, clearing the way for the city to acquire the property, clean up the debris from the April 4, 1994, fire and work to see a new building rise from the ashes.

One IDEA would be to create space for retail businesses on the ground floor of the new building while providing 20 residences on the second and third floors. That proposal has surfaced from a Salem development company, which has done a similar mixed-use project in Pendleton.

We wonder how many other ideas for development of the property are out there? Are there local investors who also are interested in doing something with the property if the terms are right?

City Manager Wes Hare believes the city might have to give away the land in order to see it developed. We wonder if that is necessary? While a low cost for the parcel would certainly be a lure for a developer, the city should not get in a rush to give away a potentially valuable piece of downtown property.

A request for proposals process could show that a potential owner might be willing to pay part of the cost of the property and also contribute toward the $12,000 to $15,000 expected pricetag of removing the rubble.

Bohnenkamp Interiors was a quality home furnishings outlet before the early morning fire devastated the building and destroyed its contents. It would be wonderful if a new building rises some day, housing retail businesses with the same commitment toward quality products and service as the Bohnenkamps displayed. We hope a number of proposals surface so the city and its Urban Renewal Agency can decide on the best one that fits the downtown business district and serves the needs of the people of the area.

NOBLE SERVICE

The hearts of Oregonians go out to the families of the two police officers who were killed and the one officer who was seriously injured in a freeway accident Tuesday night near Salem.

Oregon State Police Trooper Maria Mignano, 39, and off-duty Albany policeman Jason Hoerauf, 29, died when they were struck by a pickup truck on Interstate 5 while trying to help people in a disabled van. A third officer, OSP Sgt. John Burright, 41, was seriously injured in the accident.

The accident is a reminder of the risks that police and other public safety employees take daily while performing ordinary duties. Trooper Mignano and Officer Hoerauf died while engaged in a noble and significant service. We all need to be grateful to the people who take risks while serving others.