EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene City Council voted to sell a piece of property across from the federal courthouse to Northwest Community Credit Union. The site is currently home to a garden, partially run by University of Oregon students.
The credit union wants to set up its regional office on the property; but those who’ve sweat into the soil of this service garden for the past few years, say they’re disappointed to see the fruits of their labor sold.
The Urban Renewal Agency or the City of Eugene has owned these two acres for 11 years. For the past few years, the University of Oregon leased the property and planted a service garden.
“We would like to stay because it’s got three years and over 3,000 hours of labor into the soil,” said UO student Jamie Perez.
The soil will soon be home to the regional office of Northwest Community Credit Union, which bought the property for $1.2 million.
“We’re really excited. We’ve been talking about what we need to do to be able to support the growth that we’ve been experiencing in our credit union,” said John Iglesias, President/CEO of Northwest Community Credit Union.
The 60,000-sqaure-foot regional office will function as a headquarters and a support system, along with a branch.
“We see Eugene, the downtown Eugene area, as a regional hub for this community,” said Iglesias.
The majority of city councilors agree. They think the new office will provide a vibrant addition to the riverfront property and downtown, which they have wanted for some time.
However, not all councilors were in agreement. Councilors George Brown and Betty Taylor felt the vote was rushed. City staff say the credit union requested recent discussions with the city to be kept confidential.
“It’s really disgraceful that the city council and the credit union kept this behind closed doors and didn’t allow the public to voice their opinion. In fact, I was kicked out of the meeting,” said Perez.
But councilors did express support for the garden, looking at transitioning it to another site.
“That’s something that’s between the city and the University of Oregon. We definitely respect that it’s important to the community,” said Iglesias.
Northwest Community Credit Union will begin construction on the building in the spring