Occupy Eugene does not endorse the 2E Broadway proposal to put a building on Kesey Square, quite the opposite.
You wouldn’t know this, however, from reading the proposal from the 2E Broadway development team, headed by Rowell Brokaw Architects (the same firm who got the contract for City Hall after a “deeply flawed” process. The proposal was turned in at the request of City Manager Jon Ruiz, who put out a request for RFEIs (request for expressions of interests) from interested parties for the future of Kesey Square. The deadline for RFEIs was Jan. 15.
The 2E Broadway proposal specifically states:
"We’ve met with folks from Occupy and even they start getting excited about the project once they understand it."
Occupy as in Occupy Eugene, the local group that is part of the national activist movement fighting social and economic inequality. EW received a press release from Occupy Eugene Jan. 5, titled: "Occupy Eugene Urges City Keep Kesey Square Public."
The press release goes on to say:
“Occupy Eugene is urging concerned residents of Eugene make their voices heard. Call the city at (541) 682-5010, and ask the council to postpone the decision about selling off Kesey Square to developers. In addition, ask for a more open decision process involving the public. Finally, ask the council to preserve and protect Kesey Square as public space, accessible to all. They can also be contacted at:firstname.lastname@example.org”
The Occupy press release continues:
“All communities need a public space to flourish. In downtown Eugene, today, Kesey Square is that place. Occupy Eugene calls on the council to demonstrate the leadership, vision and courage it takes to make our community a great and vibrant one. Kesey Square must remain in public ownership. This press release is from the Communications Committee of Occupy Eugene that has been empowered to speak on behalf of the larger Occupy Eugene body.”
EW contacted Occupy Eugene to verify that the group had not changed it stance, to verify that is was not, in fact, endorsing the 2E Broadway proposal.
Occupy Eugene member Art Bollman says he was upset to hear that the proposal made the claim that Occupy Eugene was enthusiastic about the project to put a building on Kesey Square, or what the 2E Broadway proposal likens to a “pit,” when Occupy Eugene’s stance is the opposite.
“Occupy is concerned about public space,” Bollman tells EW. “The whole idea of protecting public space downtown is important to us for first amendment rights to protest and to have cultural gatherings.”
Bollman says some Occupy members went to a presentation in early fall 2015 that the developers for 2E Broadway hosted, but Occupy Eugene was never “excited” about it.
“It was obvious from the presentation that they had already put thousands of dollars into it,” Bollman says. “Some people wonder if that’s an informal go ahead from the city manager.”
Bollman continued, saying of the City Council, the Mayor Kitty Piercy and City Manager Jon Ruiz: “It feels like they’ve been slowly getting rid of public space.”
Rowell Brokaw Architects and others on the development team have not responded to several requests for comment.
Above: From the 2E Broadway Proposal
To read all the proposals for Kesey Square, which the City Council will consider in February, go here.