The Osprey Group
community is uniform in its thinking. An interviewee noted, "The environmental
community is a tough one in this town. There is no one person who speaks for the
environmental community; there is no single figurehead."
Some believe there is a reason for optimism. As one person noted, "The old WEP
debate was a struggle between hard-line environmentalists and the hard-line business
community. The more responsible environmental community is willing to look at
alternatives and willing to compromise. Let's consider highway improvements, but
avoid the wetlands." A number of individuals recognized that improved interactions
and creative thinking are more likely when people, organizations and agencies are not
stuck in their positions.
Even recognizing openness in the search for solutions from many we interviewed,
there is an overlay of suspicion or acrimony that complicates discussions and
negotiations. For instance, we were told that the Federal agencies, with distinctly
different mandates, apparently are not working as collegially or cooperatively as one
might expect toward common solutions. Moreover, conflict exists between Lane
County and the City of Eugene about the value of the WEP. The most recent tangible
evidence of this was in the Metropolitan Policy Committee's effort to approve the
Metropolitan Transportation Implementation Plan (MTIP), when Eugene
representatives sought approval of the MTIP without the WEP and others said no.
This remains an outstanding conflict.
Growth versus No-Growth Some Eugene residents would prefer to see little or no
growth in the City or even the region. They think growth causes a reduction in
quality of life. As one individual said in citing our over-reliance on the automobile,
"The party can't go on. No solution that includes building a new highway makes any
sense from any number of perspectives." There are others who see growth as
inevitable or desirable and that the challenge is to best plan for and manage the
growth that does occur. As one person put it, "There is a conflict between the vision
of Eugene as a village and the vision of Eugene as a city." The WEP is a poster child
for this fundamental philosophical difference in viewpoints. Another commented
that, "This is a symbolic issue for the community. It is similar to the conundrum that
a lot of communities face about balancing growth and livability."
Openness in the Process Any lack of transparency in WEP planning contributes to
suspicion and further lack of trust. Regardless of the level of public involvement to
date, some believe that more complete and timely information should have been
shared. A greater sense of openness and inclusion on the part of ODOT would help
community understanding and potential acceptance of a decision. One person said,
"The debate has gotten over-simplified. No one listens and it's hard to get folks to
move off their positions. We need a fresh look." Others, however, see the problem
as the inability of Eugene citizens to agree on anything. When asked why this
process has taken so long, one individual said simply, "It's Eugene."