The West Linn City Council has no plans to convene a citizen task force to look at a proposed solar highway project and associated trail, despite urging from residents at a meeting Monday night.
Steve Garner, who lives on Riverknoll Way, acted as an “informal representative” for West Linn residents opposed to the project, an Oregon Department of Transportation proposal to generate power during the day that could offset the cost of lighting Interstate 205 at night.
If the project is built, rows of solar panels would stretch 2,000 feet – about the length of six side-by-side football fields – across a benched hillside on state-owned land near an old, unused rest area off Interstate 205.
Now home to heavy-duty equipment, gravel piles, wood debris and work sheds, the site is north of the freeway and north of the 10th Street exit.
Garner said a solar-generation project of that magnitude might be the first one seriously considered near a residential neighborhood, and an ad hoc committee or task force appears to be the only way citizens’ opinions will carry much weight in the decision-making process.
About 20 people in the audience stood up in support of his comments.
But councilors were leery of the idea.
Council president Jody Carson said she would support holding a series of meetings for additional community input rather than creating a new task force.
A challenge, she said, is that the solar highway installation is a different project with a different planning process than the potential new trail, even if the two ideas are related.
Councilor Teri Cummings said the city will likely need to have a preliminary trail design in hand before it can apply for state grant money to build the new trail, already identified in the city’s long-term plan for creating local paths.
She said transportation board members and the city’s sustainability advisers should be involved in the parks and recreation department’s planning process.
A deadline for the state transportation grant has been set in December.
By Kara Hansen, West Linn Tidings – http://www.westlinntidings.com/news/story_2nd.php?story_id=125313121170951900