The city of Philomath recently lifted a stop work order on Millpond Crossing and the developer, MPC Builders, has resumed construction activities at the site on South 16th Street between Timothy Street and Chapel Drive.
“We are currently working with the city to finalize dates on specific tasks the city wants MPC to prioritize and will send a comprehensive update on upcoming tasks once completion dates have been established with the city,” the developer wrote July 3 in an email to homeowners.
In mid-May, MPC Builders provided a status update with expected timelines. Developers said that by September, they expect to finish building Phase 2B homes (those sites on the east side of South 16th), complete “punch list” items that come up and set up a final paving of the street. The company also targeted September as the month when Chapel Drive improvements would be finished, which includes repaving and new sidewalk.
Phase 3 and Phase 4 site improvements and the construction of a community park would then get started in October. On its website, the developer states that the entire development is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.
It should be noted that those timelines were outlined in a May email and with the stop order only recently lifted, it’s possible that dates will need to be pushed back.
That’s just an overview of the work going on at the site. The developer also mentioned in his communication with homeowners a list of other various tasks that have been completed with the city, Benton County and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Millpond Crossing is a 212-lot residential development that features single-family homes and in future phases will also include townhomes (so far, 61 homes have been built).
The developer has experienced several setbacks, including the detection of methane in certain locations on the site, which was formerly used as a sawmill and lumber processing facility.
2. Teacher contract negotiations
Last month during the public comments portion of a Philomath School Board meeting, 10 teachers took a seat in front of a mic at a table facing the five directors and shared budget-related remarks.
Many of those speaking specifically mentioned cost-of-living raises not only as a strong need during a time of excessive inflation but also as a show of support for the exemplary work accomplished in local classrooms.
No decisions have been made with the school district and teachers’ union continuing their contract negotiations, a process that both sides anticipate continuing at least into August.
Philomath Education Association co-presidents David Dunham and Nicole Stueve were in attendance at a July 3 School Board meeting. Dunham said there are a lot of things going on and a lot of wheels in motion with the union trying to address things as they come up.
“It feels like we’ve moved forward and made some progress on the contract, which I think from an association perspective is a really good piece of news,” Dunham said. “It would be great if we can find a way to get this done before school starts.”
Dunham and Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday both confirmed no bargaining sessions are scheduled this month as people take some time off with talks to resume during the first week of August. The last meeting occurred June 28.
“We’d like to enter the school year with as much resolve as possible,” Dunham said. “There are a few things up in the air right now and we’re going to communicate about those things.”
Board member Erin Gudge thanked the PEA bargaining team and its members for “all the hard work they’ve been putting in and I feel like that every time we meet, we get a little bit closer. And I really appreciate the creativity and innovative ideas that come up.”
Board chair Rick Wells had similar comments while also thanking the PEA “for the movement we’ve seen from both sides in the negotiations. I would love to have it done by the school year so it’s not something we have to deal with after school starts.”
3. Online park reservations
The city of Philomath recently announced its intentions to launch an online park reservation system with the move expected to occur Aug. 1.
Through this online option, residents can check availability, apply for park-use permits and make payments. As a result, the days of waiting on hold during phone calls or needing to make a trip down to City Hall to sign paperwork and pay fees will be eliminated.
The city said reservation requests can be made up to 12 months out. For events sooner than seven days, anything not reserved will be made available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Individuals or groups can establish an account in the system to make it easier to make reservations in the future. That option seems to be favorable to those who often use park facilities for events.
Remember, the online system doesn’t go into effect until Aug. 1, so for now, continue calling 541-929-3001. If you want more info on all of this, the city published details on its website.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).