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Six-month-old Villages at Mt. Hood just getting started

Community has approved 10 activities
by: Garth Guibord, Villages board member Bob Reeves admires two of the villages' supported activites: the Mountain Express bus and the Dorman Community Center.

A mere six months ago, on May 25, the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners ratified formation of the Villages at Mt. Hood - the first quasi-governmental village created under the county's Complete Communities ordinance.

If there is one word that describes what the newly formed entity has been up to, it's 'activity.'

At the May 6 town hall meeting, when the community voted in favor of the village, four community activities were approved: Highway 26 streetscape and pedestrian paths, a new community center, the strategic planning committee, and the Mountain Express bus service. Two more activities - Welches and Salmon River Road bike lanes and preserving mountain character - were added in August.

Another four - a Barlow Trail County Park, stream corridor restoration, a Rhododendron Community Park, and preserving Mountain Heritage Homes - were approved in November, bringing the total number of supported activities to 10. These 10, along with any future activities that are approved, are at the center of how the village evolves. For now, the county commissioners are pleased with what the village has accomplished.

'(The commissioners) are thrilled to see that much success,' said Christine Roth, Clackamas County Villages and Hamlets liaison. 'They've got so much going on up there; they just have a huge amount of energy.'

Roth cited the level of fund-raising that the fledgling community has accomplished as a prime benefit for the villages and hamlets concept. Recently, the Highway 26 streetscapes and pedestrian paths grant application placed second on a list of transportation projects in the Region 1 non-metro division with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

The Mountain Express Bus service also has seen increased funding through grants made available through the Villages at Mt. Hood. Funding from ODOT jumped from $30,000 to approximately $83,000 earlier this year. The service expanded last month to include an extra run and is now approaching 1,000 riders per month.

'(The county) has become our fiscal agents, which makes people such as ODOT much more comfortable in working with grant money,' said board member Bob Reeves, who helps coordinate the Mountain Express. 'It's been a big boost. I think that's going to be the key to stabilizing the finances and the future of the Mountain Express.'

Two more activities are tentatively scheduled for the Feb. 17 town hall meeting: a community park and amphitheater, and community input on county lands. No other applications have been received for supported activities, but the possibility exists that others might be submitted.

With the village taking on so many supported activities, the board plans to create a system to help prioritize them for the future. The structure of how the activities will be prioritized is unclear, but according to Rick Applegate, chairman of the village board, the community will have final say in the matter. Applegate stressed that with only so many grants and other funding available, prioritizing supported activities is critical.

'It's really important because we're growing the number of supported activities,' said Applegate. 'There's a limit of resources.'

The village board also will tackle a number of other issues in the near future, including how to remove a board member, a process to address complaints brought against board members, conflicts of interest pertaining to board members and reviewing the village bylaws - which will be discussed during the strategic planning meetings. The board also plans to re-elect officer positions during its January meeting.

Despite the workload and the occasional bump in the road the village has faced, the community is eager to work and grow together.

'I would just like to see it become more cohesive,' said village board member Shirley Dueber, who was the chief petitioner behind the village. 'I think we're going to see all these supported activities move ahead. I think we're doing OK so far.'

For more information, visit www.villagesmthood.us.


CALENDAR

Dec. 5 - Mt. Hood Area Chamber of Commerce, 8 a.m. at the Mt. Hood Village Fireside Room.

Dec. 7 - Mt. Hood Corridor CPO, 7 p.m. at the Dorman Center (Hoodland Community Center).

Dec. 7 - Mountain Express meeting, 7 p.m. at the Hoodland Fire District main station.

Dec. 13 - Strategic planning, 4 p.m. at the Hoodland Fire District main station.

Dec. 19 - Villages Board of Directors meeting, 4 p.m. at the Hoodland Fire District main station.


The public is invited to comment on the Highway 26 streetscapes and pedestrian paths grant application by emailing Patricia R. Fisher at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Comments are due by Thursday, Nov. 30.