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City severs media center ties

City enters agreement with friends group to keep access to center


West Linn officially cut ties with Oregon City and the Willamette Falls Media Center. The council voted June 25 to terminate its agreement with the entities after a long process and deterioration of relationships.by: VERN UYETAKE - Friends of the Willamette Falls Media Center will take over the facility as of July 1.

Back in November, the West Linn City Council voted to enter an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission and to dissolve its agreement with Oregon City.

West Linn co-owned WFMC with Oregon City through an agreement devised in the 1980s. Both cities jointly shared the public access facility, located at 1101 Jackson St. in Oregon City, where public, education and government shows are created, edited and aired on cable channels 23 and 30. WFMC was governed by the Clackamas County Advisory Board, which was composed of volunteers from each city.

The media center was funded through franchise money the cities received in exchange for granting right of way to cable provider Comcast.

The move to MACC was not sudden. Ties were strained between Oregon City and West Linn and the WFMC for a number of years, dating back to 2007.

Under the new agreement with MACC, it will be responsible for the city's cable franchise management and PEG access television.

MACC manages four cable television franchises for 15 jurisdictions in Washington and Clackamas counties. For its members, MACC negotiates, manages and enforces cable franchise agreements. MACC also manages the PEG access facilities that are supported by its members.

With West Linn pulling out of the media center, the center stood a chance of having to close its doors. In an effort to keep the facility open and operating, the new nonprofit organization, Friends of the Willamette Falls Media Center, was formed.

Although the city of West Linn is technically entitled to half of the funds and equipment at the media center, it has come to an agreement with the friends group.

The agreement gives the city $6,000 in cash, a Nexus server valued at $8,000 and a credit allowing West Linn residents two years of free studio access and equipment checkout, through June 30, 2014.

West Linn City Manager Chris Jordan said the estimated value of the two years' use of the facility is $50,000.

"Although the city is not receiving a full 50 percent of all the assets, we believe this agreement is reasonable because it does allow the community continued studio access and does relieve the city of future responsibility for governing the studio," wrote Jordan in a June 13 memo to the city council. "Also, we believe that the continuing operation of the studio is a benefit to the West Linn community as well as to the rest of Clackamas County, and this agreement will allow that to happen."

The council voted to approve both to terminate its agreement with Oregon City and to enter into a new agreement with the Friends of WFMC.