Heated Meeting Ends In Merger

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PHOENIX, Ore. — The Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency has several projects proposed that will directly impact the downtown area. The communication of their progress has been a frustration for some on the city council, and Thursday night, it was decided that an ordinance will be formed to combine the council and the board.

The meeting aimed at improving communication between Phoenix City Council and the Urban Renewal Board, instead centered on personal attacks.

“I think the only thing that I can take away in satisfaction tonight is that the council at least made a decision,” said Phoenix Mayor Jeff Bellah.

After two hours, a decision was made but not the initial compromise Mayor Bellah came to the table with.

“It became obvious to me that my compromise was not being accepted, so that wasn’t going to happen,” said Mayor Bellah.

After multiple interruptions from the crowd, some even being asked to leave, a 3-3 vote of combining the city council and urban renewal board came down to Mayor Bellah who then voted in favor of the move.

Councilor Terry Helfrich sits on both the council and board and voted against it citing the reason two board members already resigned.

“Anytime you lose a citizen that volunteers to serve on a board and leave because of the hard feelings between the council, and particularly, the mayor,” said Phoenix City Councilor Terry Helfrich.

Helfrich doesn’t believe there are any problems with communication between the two groups when it comes to projects.

“The executive director writes a report every month and it’s very, very clear, they have a website with all the progress on all the projects,” said Helfrich.

Mayor Bellah said he did not want to make the final vote, and although he prefers a compromise, he is glad something was decided.

“If we can’t move on from this issue, then we’re  going to continue to waste hundreds of hours of  time and it’s going to slow things down in Urban  Renewal,” said Mayor Bellah.

The proposed compromise could have been put into effect Thursday night. Their decision to combine the board and council, however, will take an ordinance, which will take several weeks to complete.