In Eugene, city blocks school district building plan; fallout affects YMCA

In Eugene, city blocks school district building plan; fallout affects YMCA »Play Video
The question is: Can the school district build where there aren't trees, or does the ecosystem extend beyond the ash woodland west of the school?

EUGENE, Ore. - The City of Eugene says the Eugene 4J School District can't build the new Roosevelt Middle School as planned.

The district plans to appeal.

The district plans to build the new school west of the existing building.

That's too close to wetlands the city says 4J can't build on.

The district alleges the city goofed on mapping of the area.

"The map actually included a significant portion of the wet prairie," said Jon Lauch, 4J facilities manager, "and we believe that that was not originally intended to be protected."

Lauch said it should be OK to build on the section because it doesn't have any ash trees to protect.

City planners disagree.

"We've as a city met with 4J a number of times and indicated from the beginning of the process that we believe that included the entire area as part of an ecosystem," said Laura Hammond with the City of Eugene.

Another player in this debate is the Eugene Family YMCA. If the school district's appeal is denied, then the YMCA may have to reduce its footprint on the property where the school is now, from 7 acres down to five.

"And with the required parking, it really limits some of our ability to do some of the things we want on the site," said Dave Perez with the YMCA.

The school district is appealing to the eugene hearings official.

"I think our request is reasonable," Lauch said.

"But we also know that it's important that we don't undermine the importance of these natural areas in our city," Hammond said.

Lauch expects a ruling on the appeal in September.