By Frank Lockwood

Staff writer

UMATILLA — Correlle Addition was an “orphan” neighborhood, so why were their “parents” — in form of city and county governments — moving in like long-lost relatives, residents asked at a city planning meeting last Tuesday.

Correlle lies snuggled alongside the Umatilla River, a quiet, rural neighborhood. The houses have been here long enough to grow large shade trees. Some were build in 1944. A number of the homes look almost identical, made of the same red bricks. Neighborhood lore says the owner of a former brick factory insisted employees use the company’s brick to build on company land.

And never, until now, has the county or city paid any mind to their road, residents say. In fact, the county has always refused to maintain the neighborhood’s rutted roads. Because the roads do not meet county or city standards, neither entity wants to take them over. Whatever maintenance is done, the neighbors do for themselves. Judging from the shape of the roads, that isn’t much. One road is gravel and the other is rutted pavement that is breaking up.

The neighborhood has city water, for which the citizens pay double the going rate, because the neighborhood lies in the county, not inside the city limits. The city would consider annexing the neighborhood, City Manager Larry Clucas told them, but would not maintain the streets unless they were first brought up to standards, a project the residents of the 1940s vintage homes say they cannot afford.

But now the city needs to tear up the streets and put in a 10-inch sewer pipe, in order to take advantage of some “use-it-or-lose-it” grant money. Because the city’s new wastewater treatment facility went in without a hitch, the city can use money it saved to install sewers for new developments south of Correlle.

By routing the 10-inch sewer line through Correlle, Umatilla will avoid lift stations, saving thousands of dollars. So, on Feb. 15, some of the owners were notified that construction would begin on Feb. 21. Soon, tractors were moving in. Not all were thrilled.

“The city doesn’t want to claim us, and the county doesn’t want to claim us, then the city and the county want to come in and tell us what to do,” resident Aimie Sprauer told Clucas.

In fact, like many other roads in the urban growth boundaries, Stephens Road is such a liability that the county wants to give it to the city, but the city won’t accept it. According to Clucas, the county wants the city to take over the road, but the city cannot afford the $1.5 million it would cost to bring it up to city standards. The same goes for Tucker, which forks off of Stephens and runs parallel to it.

But lack of ownership will not stop the city or the county from development, because the road has been plotted as a public right of way. As such, the road is subject to such projects as the one planned by Umatilla. Residents in Correlle will probably not hook up to the pipe because they are a county island inside the city. If some of them do choose to connect, they will pay double the city rate, because they live in the county. So, while their road will be torn up for construction work, city residents on either side of them will benefit.

The city has told them the project is legal, and there is be nothing they can do about it. The city only held the informational meeting as a courtesy. Still, some of the families wonder why the new developments just south of them should be allowed to use their roads to come and go. If Tucker and Stephens roads are not up to snuff even for the 24 families living in Correlle, residents wonder about plans to develop an additional 54 lots just south of Correlle Addition. Correlle roads stand to take a much greater beating, they say.

Only two roads presently link 54 plotted vacant new lots to Powerline Road, and one of them goes right through Correlle. Stephens and Monroe would have to bear all the traffic for the 54 new homes, unless a third road, Hamilton, were allowed to access Powerline. But opening another access to Powerline would be a tough sell, Clucas admitted. Traffic on Powerline has increased greatly in recent years, and every new access is a potential hazard. Clucas told those present at the meeting that the new addition could not be approved unless ingress and egress were addressed, but he did not describe how that might happen.

Some of those at the meeting were left far from satisfied.

“We feel like the illegitimate children in the neighborhoods,” said Steven A. Lee.

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