Sewer system identified as greatest need for canyon development

“On April 7, 2015 the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments and Marion County organized a community workshop that explored federal and state opportunities for distressed communities. The goal was to identify infrastructure projects that help promote local economic development.

The Marion County Commissioners had traveled back to Washington DC to figure out what funding was available to assist the Santiam Canyon region. In the opening statements Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron said, “We need a win, this canyon needs a win.”

Approximately 65 people were in attendance with representatives from Mill City, Gates, Detroit and Idanha present. There were also staff from Senator Wyden’s, Senator Merkley’s and Representative’s Kurt Schrader’s offices. Federal agencies represented included: USDA Rural Development, Economic Development Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of House and Urban Development. State agencies represented included: Business Oregon, Department of Environmental Quality, and Department of Land Conservation and Development.

All of the city representative’s presented information regarding the needs and priorities; with water and sewer needs the consistent theme among all cities. A complete lack of sewer systems in Detroit is holding back local development. According the Gates Mayor Jerry Marr, someone was interested in putting in a KAO Park but was unable to due to lack of sewer system. The city of Idanha is losing a lot of water due to failing pipes. The water leakage is causing streets to fall. Mill City is one of the few communities in the region with a sewer system; however it does not cover the whole city. The city needs funds to stretch it to the Marion County side mostly.

Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson suggested that the communities look at creating a service district. This would create a regional option and Marion County would be involved to help support the district. Marion County Commissioner Sam Brentano asked, “What helps all the communities? All the communities need sewer assistance. Can we create a line that stretches from Idahna down to Mill City?”

There was also discussion regarding brownfields, mostly old mill sites, and the clean up needed to redevelop these parcels.

The meeting ended with the various state and federal agencies signing up with each city that they felt they had some kind of funding to assist. “It would be great if we could organize something that would get together the city councils from all the canyon communities once a quarter. We could work together on these projects,” said Mill City Mayor Thorin Thacker.

“I think that the meeting today brought some hope. We’ve identified projects that we can move forward on. The county would like to help facilitate this process. We need to all work together to get the work done. I see hope for the future,” said Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron.”

Written by Elaina Trupin, “The Canyon Weekly,” April 10, 2015, Vol. 6, Issue 6.  Reprinted with permission.