Remember Jeff Davis telling The Corvallis Advocate that Linn-Benton Community College would not be revisiting the idea of swallowing Washington Park for a Benton Center expansion? That was back in September. Davis is LBCC’s Regional Director for Benton County and he now admits to chairing a meeting in which a revisit occurred just weeks before his communication with The Advocate reporter.
In other words, he admits to saying something to our reporter, knowing it to be untrue.
On Sept. 9 of this year Davis responded by email to the paper’s questions about progress expanding the college’s Benton Center campus, writing, “Based on community input, LBCC (not the City) made the decision to not continue to explore the possibility of purchasing a portion of Washington Park, and does not plan to re-visit this idea.” He also stated, “We believe we can build additional parking and classroom space on the land we already have.” The story ran in The Advocate’s Oct. 8, 2015 issue.
However, Davis did know that revisiting a bid for the park was in fact being discussed when he responded. The paper learned last week that Davis participated in design committee meetings as far back as August in which the now current proposal was discussed. As it turns out, Davis chairs the committee.
On Nov. 6, we asked Davis when he became aware that at least some partial use of Washington Park for parking or other infrastructure was being revisited. He emailed, responding, “…the notion of exploring all options came up in our Aug. 27 meeting (I misspoke in my Sept. 10 email to The Advocate).”
Also last week, LBCC approached the city council publicly on Nov. 2 about the prospect of a renewed bid for the park, wishing to buy at least a portion of it. Public outrage ensued last year over a similar proposal, and the city’s Parks Natural Areas and Recreation Board (PNARB) ultimately recommended that the city council not consider the sale to the college, so LBCC informed the city it would withdraw from bidding on the park, which was not up for sale, anyhow.
As for LBCC’s goal, they believe placing surface parking and other infrastructure where the park is currently sited would offer a better economy for taxpayer dollars than building a costlier multilevel parking structure. The college received an affirmative vote for a bond levy last year that in part calls for an expansion of their Benton Center campus, though no mention of attempting to move onto the adjacent city park was stated in the bond measure.
There is an intern at The Corvallis Advocate with the name Jeff Davis; he is not associated with Linn-Benton Community College or related to its Regional Director for Benton County.
By Steven J. Schultz