Mayor mum on 'knock out the Fred Meyers' email

Mayor mum on 'knock out the Fred Meyers' email
Artist rendering of proposed Fred Meyer development

EUGENE, Ore. - Mayor Kitty Piercy wrote to the director of the YMCA and suggested the Y to work with the Save Civic Stadium organization to "knock out the Fred Meyers."

The Y, Save Civic and Masters Development were the only three organizations to submit proposals to the Eugene 4J School District, which owns Eugene Civic Stadium and surrounding land in South Eugene.

Only the Save Civic proposal calls for retaining the stadium. The other two would remove the stadium.

A school district committee rated Masters' proposal to build a Fred Meyer retail store and housing on the property highest amongst the proposals.

Piercy sent a brief e-mail sent from her iPhone on March 15 to Dave Perez, the executive director of the Eugene YMCA.

The message reads in its entirety:

"Is there any hope of you combining efforts with civic folks in some innovative way? I know you tried and decided no but would you reconsider with some city facilitation??? Together you might knock out the Fred Meyers."

KVAL News wanted to talk to the mayor about the e-mail. City spokewoman Jan Bohman said the mayor was busy and did not want to comment on the message. Bohman said there was nothing positive to be gained by talking about the message.

Bohman said the e-mail does not mean Piercy is against the Fred Meyer plan. Asked why Piercy would send the message, Bohman declined to provide a KVAL News reporter with any further information.

The marketing director the developers working on the Fred Meyer proposal declined to comment.

Perez with the Y said Piercy's proposal was an "attractive idea" but said they considered that option and it wouldn't work. There's not enough space to both restore the stadium and build the Y's new facility.

The fate of Civic Stadium will not be decided by the mayor or Eugene City Council. The final decision rests with the Eugene 4J School District. However, the city does have a say in allowing zoning changes.

The following is Perez's response to Piercy:

Good morning, Kitty: 

Thank you for your response and good question. As you note, we did put significant time and resource into exploring this option a year ago and have been approached more recently by George Brown and others to discuss the same. It is an attractive idea in concept-essentially a win for all; but after extensive exploration of its potential, the reality paints a different and unviable picture for the following reasons:

1. Physical space: The combined parking needs of an event-based facility of this size and a Y of our ideal size simply does not fit on the 9.6 acres of this site. This was the prime mover for our agreement to go separate ways 8 months ago. At that time, we sought out other partners that we felt would complement our organizational mission and require less parking acreage and have been successful in doing that.    

2. The Save Civic Stadium group does not have the capital to renovate the stadium…. If we were to partner with their group it would result in us walking away from a privately financed opportunity that takes the pressure off of our fundraising timeline (we still have to raise the money, but groundbreaking is not dependent on that). In addition, we would then be in a situation where we would be asking our community for $20 million for a new Y AND the $10-15 million to renovate the stadium.

3. Related to this, if we struck out on this journey without our current partners, our fundraising timeline would determine our facility development timeline. Raising $20 million in this economy could take upwards of 5-6 years and we simply do not have that amount of time remaining on our current facility.  We need this to happen quickly for the viability of our continued mission and service to our community. (Our current partnership allows us to open our doors as early as August 2013).

4. Save Civic does not have a viable business plan to support the ongoing program operation they have proposed.  It is not in our best interest to compromise our very solid and viable business plan and operations by partnering with a speculative and unfunded operation.

5. Our business plan and current partnership puts us on the solid footing we need to allow us to raise the funds necessary to build a new community Y facility in Bethel on city-owned park land, which we have been working on with the City and the Bethel school district since 2004.

As a baseball guy and a member of our community that has many wonderful memories of Civic, I do appreciate your suggestion. I simply have not been convinced that pursuing it any further is in the best interest of our Y's future.

Dave Perez  Executive Director Eugene Family YMCA