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Fairview is healthy, but threat exists

Editor's note: Following is the text of the state of the city address delivered by Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby on Wednesday, Jan. 16. It has been edited here for space reasons.

First, a happy New Year, and also, a happy birthday to the city of Fairview.

Fairview was founded as a city in 1908, and this year we are celebrating our centennial. We have a whole year packed with centennial activities.

I am proud and honored to be your mayor in this centennial year, and I want to especially express the pride that I feel to be able to serve with such a competent and highly capable City Council. …

So what is the state of our city? It is a healthy community made up of diverse residential neighborhoods, a small but growing business community, neighborhood parks where children can play, and numerous natural areas with creeks, and ponds. We also have prime commercial property along Halsey Street ready for development and abundant industrial lands available north of Sandy Boulevard.

I am very pleased to announce that we have received a commitment from Multnomah County that in July of this centennial year we will finally see a new intersection with a modern signaling system at 223rd and Sandy. This project will both enable the free movement of passenger and truck traffic through that intersection, and enhance the development opportunities for the industrial lands both at the Townsend property, and the former Alcoa property.

Also in July of this year, we will finally see the beginning of construction on the railroad overpass with a widened underpass on 223rd, with completion set for 2009. This is a major transportation improvement event not just for Fairview, but for all of East County.

A high quality of life and pride in one's city and neighborhood goes hand in hand. I am happy to say that we are moving forward to help accomplish that with stronger code enforcement. With the assistance of you, our citizens, we are working to remove eyesores within our neighborhoods. This is something that we will work relentlessly to accomplish; it is something all of our citizens deserve.

Fairview is rightfully proud of its police force, and in our centennial year, because public safety is a major priority for our community, our goal is to increase our police force by four more officers. This is a big challenge, but one that, with your support, we can accomplish.

At the present time, our city is fiscally healthy, with competent hardworking employees working to keep it that way, along with the City Council's conservative fiscal practices. One result can be seen in the fact that by mid-2009, we will should be able to pay off our beautiful new City Hall 10 years early and save our taxpayers nearly $600,000 in interest savings over that period.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank one of the key staff who helped to make this possible through her hard work and dedication and that is Laura Zentner, our finance director. …

The council and I are proud of the many new community events we have initiated this past year, such as Flicks in the Park, Veterans Day ceremony and National Night Out, to name a few. And of course, we can't forget the increasingly popular Chili on the Green festival that is held each September. …

Looking ahead in 2008, there is a gathering cloud that hangs over us that we will have to overcome in order to accomplish our vision for Fairview and to maintain and grow a healthy community. It is the proposed gambling casino that would be located just across the street from one of our residential neighborhoods.

I will not go into the litany of problems that I believe this proposal would create, such as increased crime and freeway level traffic on Halsey. All that and more will likely lead to the inevitable deterioration of the quality of life that we have come to value in Fairview. The private casino is being pitched as an entertainment center. It is as much an entertainment center as the casinos in Las Vegas are.

The question that we need to begin thinking about is, do the citizens of Fairview want to live across the street from Wood Village or Vegas Village? In 2008, you will need to stand up and be heard. This is especially true if the proposed statewide ballot measures related to this proposal make it onto the ballot this November.

In summation, I firmly believe that 2008 is a gateway year for Fairview, that we have formed the foundation and laid the building blocks for an even stronger city and richer quality of life for all of our citizens. We are a leader among the communities of East County, both for the coming year and the years to follow - a city truly to be proud of more than ever.

Mike Weatherby is the mayor of Fairview.