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Armory location opponents reply.

Byline: CRAIG SHELBY and LEANDRA BELL MATSON For The Register-Guard

WE GENERALLY DO NOT find it productive to engage in they-say, we-say debates, but the Nov. 28 guest column by Nick Urhausen, post commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, demands a response. Urhausen's malicious attack on the Russel Creek Neighbors was disrespectful, grossly inaccurate and rude.

The Russel Creek Neighbors is an unincorporated association comprising not just neighbors adjacent to the proposed site for a new Armed Forces Reserve Center at McVay Highway and 30th Avenue, but students and faculty at Lane Community College, members from other neighborhood groups, and members of the community at large.

Urhausen's accusation that our group is motivated by anti-military bias was disrespectful of the members of the Russel Creek Neighbors who are veterans, including retired Congressman Jim Weaver, a veteran of the U.S. Navy in World War II and a former member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It was disrespectful of the Russel Creek Neighbors who have family members with military service.

Urhausen was grossly inaccurate in portraying the members of the Russel Creek Neighbors as only five or six residences on Bloomberg Road.

He was grossly inaccurate in presuming the Russel Creek Neighbors had a post-Sept. 11 revelation that led the group to be more cooperative with the Oregon Military Department. In fact, our offer to assist the Oregon Military Department in any way possible to locate a suitable site that meets the department's criteria, meets the land use laws, and allows room for expansion, was extended at the Aug. 3, 2000, LCC Basin stakeholders meeting. This offer was directed personally to Maj. J. E. Schwabel, chief of the Oregon Military Department's construction branch.

Urhausen was grossly inaccurate in stating that all commentary about the National Guard from the Russel Creek Neighbors was negative and vitriolic. At no time have members of the Russel Creek Neighbors ever spoken in regard to the National Guard, Marine Reserves or Naval Reserves with anything but respect and admiration for the job the men and women of the reserves do. It is a job that clearly requires a facility with enough room to provide for outside training. Such a facility clearly must allow room for expansion.

Commander Urhausen claims the Russel Creek Neighbors have a severe case of Not In My Back Yard. A quick look at the site and the site plan shows the back yard is not big enough.

He was grossly inaccurate in his presumption that the involved wetlands are devoid of life, and are inhabited only by a few deer. The involved wetlands are rich in plant and animal life, as is evident from the only environmental survey to be conducted of the site - a survey commissioned and paid for by the Russel Creek Neighbors. This survey clearly shows the presence of sensitive and endangered species.

The Russel Creek Neighbors, together with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, did indeed file a lawsuit for violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The case was not dismissed, and is scheduled for trial later this month.

The legal cost for all this work is a shared expense. The expense is shared by not only the members of the Russel Creek Neighbors, but our association was organized by a grant from the McKenzie River Gathering. This grant has allowed us to provide educational material, including a professionally produced video, on this issue.

On Nov. 29, the Oregon Military Department invited the public to a "scoping meeting" to identify environmental issues of concern. What we saw that night was members of the community speak of their respect for the military. We saw members of the community speak of their love for Oregon and their love for this valley. What we heard was an overwhelming belief the Russel Creek site was not adequate for the proposed Armed Forces Reserve Center, and that an alternative site should be chosen, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Members of the community - not just those with the Russel Creek Neighbors - spoke, including representatives from 1000 Friends of Oregon and LandWatch Lane County.

The land in question is owned by the state of Oregon, and therefore owned by we, the people - and as citizens we do have the right to say what is done with it.

Craig Shelby is the president of the Russel Creek Neighbors. Leandra Bell Matson is a member of the organization's board. The group can be contacted at russelcn@aol.com, or P.O. Box 50304, Eugene, 97405
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 10, 2001
Words:753
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