Quite often there is some backstory that explains how things got to be one way or another, but other times those behind-the-scenes machinations amount to a big, fat, apathy-inducing goose egg. In other words, sometimes the solution seems simple enough that one wishes for a little more doing and a lot less explaining.
In any event, we reserve the right to add to this list over the next year, and in fact, we invite you to send us any suggestions you may have.
Amtrak — Alicia James
My wish for Corvallis is an Amtrak stop. Some might say, “Wait! We already have one.” Yes, but a shuttle to Albany does not a train station make. Think of all the reduced carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention how great traffic will be each quarter when the students arrive/leave.
While I’m on the topic of commuting, we need a Social Security office in Corvallis. Oregon State hosts multitudes of international students, post-docs, and faculty. They are required to get Social Security numbers in order to receive their stipends. As it stands, the nearest office is a three-hour bus ride with multiple connections to Albany. Most newly arrived international folks don’t have a car or a driver’s license yet. Let’s get our heads out of the sand, and show our guests some respect.
The Majestic — Rob Goffins
Not too many towns our size can brag they own their own little theater, but then this causes a creative tension as any city government that is not somewhat risk-averse tends to not be governing for very long.
The problem stands that creative endeavors such as a theater require risk, at least if they are going be interesting. The yuck scenario is this: someone gets the idea for a perfectly interesting but controversial play, and then what? The city can either say yes and take the heat or get all sheepish and say no.
My wish: that the city appoint a board charged with the creative direction of the Majestic, at least on an advisory level.
Why No Comedy Club, Corvallis — Kirsten Allen
There’s one thing this town could use that would benefit everyone: laughs. In a region where sunshine is scarce and vitamin D is recommended in order to keep people out of the throes of depression, a comedy club would serve as a beacon of light to the young and old alike. It could be organized through OSU, set up in the back of one of the endless pubs in this town, or made its own separate entity. Several towns have achieved a reputation based largely on their hospitality to comics, and have reaped great rewards because of it. Diversity runs rampant through Corvallis, so the variety of potential comics should please someone, somewhere, sometime, somehow.
Pave the Road into Willamette Park — Gary Weaver
Willamette Park is our community’s largest park. It has great views of the Willamette River, a beautiful picnic shelter, a disc golf course, jogging, biking and hiking trails, a play structure for young kids, and lots of natural space for playing soccer, ultimate Frisbee, or rugby. Unfortunately, while the park is a crown jewel in our community, the entrance into the park is an embarrassing disgrace. Littered with crater-sized potholes, the road coming into the park looks like something out of a war movie.
Sure, when people complain about it, the city gets a crew out there to do some filling in of the holes. However, it’s always a very temporary and usually poorly done fix. Why not pave the road? And I’m not wishing for the entire parking area to be paved, I’m talking like an eighth of a mile here, from the entrance to the beginning of the parking area. I don’t think it’s a big ask—City of Corvallis, make it so.
More Live Jazz or a Jazz Bar — Denise Ruttan
As I sipped on my pear ginger martini and listened to Mercury’s Refrain perform standards like “The Nearness of You” at FireWorks Restaurant’s intimate New Year’s Eve gala, it made me think, Corvallis really needs more of this. This town needs a venue that regularly supports jazz musicians. Sure, I’ve seen the Hilltop Big Band squeeze onto the gazebo at Central Park in the summertime, and random Portland acts passing through the Majestic. But what I want is a bar or club with space and good acoustics. I want a place that’s not just a rock or techno dance floor, but instead a venue devoted to keeping the voices of Gilberto, Davis, and Sinatra alive. Let’s swing in 2015, Corvallis.
Homelessness Reality Check —Joel Hutton
With four different organizations operating shelters for the homeless and plans for a $2.5 million expansion for the controversial facility downtown, there are only two things that are clear about this part of our population: the debate about how to best help them is contentious, and everyone in that debate admits they do not know how many homeless we have.
Also, it turns out that how you best help someone who is homeless depends largely on how they got that way. For instance, the middle class teenager finding he is homeless because he just came out to his fundamentalist parents will need different supports than a woman in her 40s with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse.
My wish here: some numbers. Our county has a commission due to release an update of the 10-Year Plan to Eliminate Homelessness in the next few months; it would be quite helpful if there was a callout for some research. We get it that precision will be hard to come by in this instance, but with millions of dollars on the line and a public sentiment that would like some answers, even an educated guess would beat throwing darts in the dark.