Change, cooperation, challenge and creativity definte the State of the City
Sandy Mayor Linda Malone is a fan of C-4, the Clackamas County Coordinating Committee, which allows city leaders to work together to get the sort of attention and resources they want from county government.
C-4 also is a powerful military plastic explosive, known for making a big impact with just a little substance - attributes the mayor says Sandy also has.
In the spirit of C-4, Malone decided to employ four Cs of her own when presenting her annual State of the City address to the 40 or so local leaders gathered at Mt. Hood Hospice last Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Change, cooperation, challenge and creativity are the Cs that illustrate what took place in 2007, and what is to come in 2008, the mayor said.
'We are not a static city,' Malone said. 'We are transforming and changing; the key is to change and grow while still maintaining the characteristics and atmosphere that drew us here in the first place.'
Operations center: In 2008, the biggest change in the city, Malone says, will be the relocation of the public works and transit departments to the $4 million Sandy Operations Center, which will be completed this year.
'It is the biggest project, that doesn't include sewage, since I've been Sandy's mayor,' she said.
Staff: 'We lost a friend,' Malone said of longtime Finance Director Larry Stohosky, who died suddenly late last year, but that tragic event resulted in the hiring of his replacement, Seth Atkinson.
'We have a small, efficient, well-run, well-managed group of people,' Malone said. 'When we have turnover, it's unusual.'
The addition of new police Officer Lewis Sytsma brought the police force up to 12 officers, she said, which is a much-needed change, as will be the creation of a detective position.
Transit ridership: The number of riders on the Sandy Area Metro (SAM) and Sandy Transit Area Rides (STAR) bus services continues to increase, Malone said. In 2007, the bus provided almost 247,000 trips - 'That, from a service TriMet said wasn't really needed,' she said, noting that it will take half as long for the service to give its two-millionth ride as it did for it to reach its first million rides.
Urban renewal: In her speech notes, the mayor also said 2008 would see the start, if not the completion, of a new public plaza next to the museum, across from City Hall.
Joking with her business community crowd, Malone said, 'One thing you may have noticed when you came through town is that we're undergrounding our wires.'
The project to clear the downtown skyline of most of its utility wires has been a messy one so far, but in the end, 'We'll have a really nice streetscape and a better view of Mount Hood at the end of our street.'
Clackamas County: Despite some tension with regard to the Green Corridor Agreement, Malone wrote in her speech notes - but did not say - that, 'We have a better relationship with the County now than we ever have in the past, and I intend to continue to build that relationship with the newly expanding 5-member commission.'
She did say that she is working closely with county commissioners Lynn Peterson and Martha Schrader to 'get what's best for our local citizens.'
Metro: Although she has, in the past, referred to the Metro regional government as 'The Borg' - a race of aliens in 'Star Trek' that assimilates everything in its path - Malone stressed that Sandy must engage Metro, not ignore it.
'Even though we're not part of Metro, the actions they take and the decisions they make impact us,' she said. She said that the expansion of the urban growth boundary led to the creation of the city of Damascus, which has affected Sandy directly and indirectly.
'They're still the Borg,' Malone said, 'but we're just not talking about it.'
The state of Oregon: Since Sandy's gas tax hike failed in November, Malone said it's now up to state leaders to ensure that cities have the funds they need for road maintenance.
Infrastructure: 'The most pressing need is water,' Malone said, noting that the city can supply water for 10,000 to 12,000 citizens. It's a need that's five or six years away, 'but it needs to be addressed now because of the lag time in getting a solution approved and built in time,' she said.
'I'm sure that we will find the answers to both, but it won't be inexpensive or simple,' Malone said. For now, the city's looking to have current and future citizens share the costs of infrastructure upgrades during phased plans. The first phase is likely to be the construction of a new water tower.
Perception: 'One of my hardest challenges is how to affect people's perception of our city,' Malone said. 'Really, people's perception that Sandy's getting so large.'
She said Sandy's maximum projected buildout - the biggest the city could get after it expands to the edges of its urban reserves - calls for a population of around 16,000 people.
'We'd be (the size) of that large metropolis of Canby,' Malone said. Overall, she said the size of the town is irrelevant; Sandy's character remains.
'It's not how many people are here, how many houses are here or what the houses look like,' Malone said. 'That's not what makes Sandy Sandy. Sandy is a place where everyone knows your name and where you can feel comfortable walking the streets at night. It doesn't matter if we're a city of 3,000 or 7,000, we're still the Sandy I moved here for. What keeps me going is being able to impact what happens, being able to direct it.'
Housing market: 'The current pace of development seems to be slowing a little bit,' she said. 'We will take advantage of this to make some needed changes to our (development) code,' which includes new design standards for commercial buildings ('Sandy Style').
High school bond: In her speech notes, Malone wrote, 'One of the challenges that we will face this year is not directly one that is the city's to solve - a new high school. We share the opinion of our friends at the Oregon Trail School District that a new high school is necessary, and we will do what we can to help them realize this goal.
'It will be a challenge to pass a new high school bond, but I have faith that if we give it our best effort, it is achievable.'
'Most of the challenges and changes we face will require creativity in addition to, and sometimes in lieu of, money,' Malone wrote in her notes.
She said that creativity has been shown in the city's parks, the Fareless SAM service, its buzz-generating SandyNet Internet utility, the music and movies in the park every summer and much more.
Malone wants to see that creativity used in reaching the city's goals, including the Springwater Trail connection that would link Portland with Mount Hood. That creativity also will see streaming video of council meetings at www.cityofsandy.com, where users will be able to click to various parts of the meeting using hyperlinked agenda items.
'We are known for basically being ahead of the curve,' Malone told her chamber audience. 'The city to the west of us doesn't do nearly the kinds of things we do out here. I like to think of us as the little city that thinks big. We're always open to ideas, and we're constantly moving forward.'