Bend could use eminent domain to obtain land so the city can build curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks at three spots on Third Street and to continue rebuilding 14th Street.
The Bend City Council voted 6-0 Wednesday to allow City Manager Eric King to use eminent domain to purchase land at several locations on both streets if other negotiations with private property owners fail. The city would only need temporary access for construction on 14th Street, but it would permanently claim land as public right-of-way on Third Street.
Bend will continue trying to negotiate without using eminent domain, said Rory Rowan, a city project engineer, but using it can ensure that construction happens on schedule.
When governments claim land through eminent domain, they still must pay the property owner.
“Without this, it’s very open-ended negotiation,” Rowan said.
On Third Street, eminent domain could apply to portions of three properties: a lot in the 700 block of Third Street owned by Peter Caine Trust and occupied by the PeopleReady temporary employment agency, the Central Oregon Audiology site on the 300 block of Franklin Avenue and the Budget Inn.
City employees have spent six months unsuccessfully negotiating with one property owner on Third Street, according to a staff report.
All of the Third Street improvements are part of a citywide safety project to add safer crossings throughout Bend. Another crosswalk near NE 27th Street and Conners Avenue was protested by some neighbors who wanted the city to build a four-way stop instead.
The most extensive improvements would be at the intersection of Third Street and Franklin Avenue, which would have new curb ramps, sidewalk improvements and eventually a new traffic signal. A couple of blocks north, the intersection of Third Street and Hawthorne Avenue would get new curb ramps and a flashing crosswalk beacon.
A crosswalk beacon is also planned for the intersection of Third Street and the Central Oregon Irrigation District Canal Trail. Without that crosswalk, people using the trail could only cross Third Street at Brosterhaus Road or Reed Lane, Rowan said.
The city also could use eminent domain for three temporary construction easements on 14th Street between Albany and Galveston avenues. The locations are all adjacent to a major project reconstructing 14th Street, the first phase of which is ongoing.
Project manager Garrett Sabourin said allowing for eminent domain will mitigate any risks that construction is delayed.
“Our goal with this project was not to take any permanent construction easements or obtain any right of way,” he said.
Councilors also gave initial approval to an Oregon State University-Cascades master plan that would add dozens of buildings and several new streets as the campus grows to 5,000 students.
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