April 11, 2001 11:00 pm

Sidewalks still sore

spot on city scene

We have often been critical of the decaying sidewalks and streets throughout La Grande. In order to keep some balance, we thought we should point out the work that is being done by the Presbyterian Church on Washington Avenue.

Several corner areas have been taken out and redone with handicap access incorporated. The work looks great and the result will make access to that block much easier.

On the other side you dont have look very far to find the decay of La Grandes sidewalks progressing. Across the street from the church, the city has a parking lot entrance next to the Oregon Trail Electric Co-op building, which is decaying rapidly. And just a few blocks south of the church, patches of the sidewalk are almost totally gone.

Last year the city council took up the problem of decaying sidewalks, but so far little seems to be coming of it. A city-wide local improvement district was established to allow property owners a financing option. But how many residents have stepped up to replace their deteriorating walkways?

We believe that a citys pride can be measured by the care it takes with its sidewalks and streets. Even trees or new community buildings like a fire station or library wont hide the urban blight that is spoiling La Grandes appearance.

Making the case

Were happy to see the strong efforts that are being made to make sure that the Oregon Youth Authoritys youth-accountability camp at Hilgard does not slip through the cracks of the states 2001-03 budget.

A broad coalition of interests held a press conference this morning at the Capitol to answer questions and show their support for Oregons youth boot camps.

Former State Rep. Ray Baum of La Grande has been working hard as a Union County lobbyist to make sure the money is found to open the Riverbend camp at Hilgard.

A new building, security fencing and a sewage lagoon were constructed at the Riverbend site. The camp, which cost about $4 million to build, was set to open last summer to serve 50 boys, but was not quite ready for occupancy when Gov. John Kitzhabers budget proposal came out in December. His plan did not include the funds to operate the facility.

In an effort to attract the camp, Union County and the City of La Grande invested about $100,000 and waived some planning and building fees for the Oregon Youth Authority. Where is the return on this investment if the Legislature does not provide the funding? And what about the 30 or more jobs that would go unfilled?

Hopefully the press conference will raise the level of understanding, and the money for this important project will be forthcoming.