Make the McKenzie Connection!

$4.1 million more

Grant includes low-to moderate-income homes

EUGENE: Some of the $150 million in funding set aside by the Oregon legislature in 2021 will be coming to Blue River, thanks to a vote last month by the Lane County Board of Commissioners. In accepting a $4,120,547.41 grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), the board plans to assign the money for home purchases; supplies for volunteer-built housing construction; infrastructure; and staffing for recovery operations.

In his report to the board Long-term Disaster Recovery Manager Matt McRae noted that m any Holiday Farm Fire survivors continue to reside in shelters, with relatives, and in RVs and have not had the financial resources to find rental housing or rebuild. "Not taking action on this item," according to McRae, "would delay or prevent recovery and access to housing, having a negative financial impact on the survivors."

Several projects will be funded by the OHCS grant. They include design and engineering for Blue River Drive, the town's "Main Street" that extends from the east and west junctions with Hwy. 126. Other funds would pay for a retracement survey to determine where fences and other unofficial landmarks used to mark property boundaries were before they were destroyed by the Holiday Farm Fire.

Lane County will also hire a surveyor to do a similar search in other areas outside of Blue River proper.

While different utilities repair, install and replace underground pipes and wires part of the grant will be used to install conduit to accommodate high-speed communications.

Without having a central governmental body the small community has at times been unable to represent itself. Short of incorporating as a city, funds have been designated to assist with the development of a new Blue River Community Organization "to support effective, transparent community decision-making."

Other funds are being set aside for repairs and replacements at the Forest Glen Park/Boat Ramp and the Blue River Park.

At least two jobs will be created during the process. One would designate $320,000 for a 2-year Project Manager position in the Community Resilience and Recovery Program who will lead work on Holiday Farm Fire recovery efforts. An 18-month Senior Program Services Coordinator position in Community Resilience and Recovery would earn $200,000 to manage funding and grants related to Holiday Farm Fire Recovery.

In addition, $800,000 would be used to help fund the estimated $3,100,000 cost to develop the Rose Street CLT, a 6-unit homeownership subdivision for low to moderate-income residents on a 2-acre lot. Within that area, plots would range in size from 3,300 to 10,000 square feet. The project calls for DevNW to serve as the developer with the new McKenzie Community Land Trust non-profit acting as the owner. If construction on the project starts in the Spring of 2024, the homes could be offered for sale and occupied by the Fall of that year.


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