Weatherby gives positive state of city address, except for casino 'cloud'
As Fairview begins its centennial year, Mayor Mike Weatherby sees mostly good things on the growing city's horizon, but warned of a 'gathering cloud' as he addressed City Council on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
In his 'State of the City' address, Weatherby indicated the city of Fairview is fiscally strong and on the move in terms of transportation and infrastructure, public safety, quality of life and community involvement. He expressed concern, however, that a proposed entertainment-gambling complex proposed for the former Multnomah Kennel Club in neighboring Wood Village could compromise Fairview's livability.
'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,' he said. 'It is the proposed gambling casino that would be located just across the street from one of our residential neighborhoods.'
Weatherby, along with East County mayors Shane T. Bemis of Gresham and Paul Thalhofer of Troutdale, opposes the project spearheaded by Lake Oswego businessmen Bruce Studer and Matt Rossman. The mayors believe the facility would overburden roads, tax utility infrastructure, and increase crime and upset family budgets by encouraging a culture of gambling.
The Oregon Secretary of State's office is close to approving two of three initiative petitions that would allow a commercial casino in Oregon. The Grande Ronde tribe, which operates its own casino at Spirit Mountain, is appealing one of the initiatives to the state Supreme Court, according to Carla Corbin, compliance specialist in the Secretary of State's office.
Studer and Rossman are reviewing the appeal. Based on that outcome, they will initiate a signature-gathering process for the most viable of the ballot measures to amend the state constitution, Rossman said. If approved, and the initiatives gather enough signatures, they will appear on the November election ballot.
'We're just evaluating what to do now with the (initiative) that's been appealed,' he said. 'We have not made a final decision on which one to pursue for signatures.'
Weatherby is convinced the proposed facility, which borders the city of Fairview at 223rd Avenue and two-lane Halsey Street, would change the small-town character of his city. He scoffs at the notion of a casino being sold as an entertainment center.
'It is as much an entertainment center as the casinos in Las Vegas are,' he said in his address to Council. 'The question we need to be 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 on the ballot this November.'
Weatherby also mentioned the following 2007 successes and improvement projects slated for this year:
• Intersection improvements: A project to widen the railroad underpass and revamp the signaling system at the 223rd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard intersection is set to begin with a completion in 2009.
A forum on the topic will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Fairview Community Center, 300 Harrison St.
• Police force expansion: Forums to discuss adding up to four officers will be held at noon and 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21 (for business owners, managers and related community partners), at Fairview City Hall Council Chambers, 1300 N.E. Village St., and at a community forum will be held 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Fairview Community Center, 300 Harrison St.
• City Hall payoff: 'By mid-2009, we will 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,' Weatherby said.
• Strategic planning: A proposal to initiate a five-year strategic plan for the city. 'A strategic plan is a tool I believe will help make the vision we hold for our city a reality.'
Weatherby called 2008 a 'Gateway Year' for Fairview. '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,' he said.