Whats next for the city?

by: ,

The Lake Oswego City Council met for two days last weekend to conduct our annual goal-setting retreat. It is an opportunity for us to think strategically and discuss major issues the community will face in the upcoming year. Ultimately the goal is to develop a list of priorities for completion during the year.

We were fortunate that our new city manager, Alex McIntyre, was able to join us prior to his official starting date of March 3.

This year the council started the goal-setting process by reviewing the accomplishments of 2007 and the work yet to be done. The long list of accomplishments for 2007 included the successful first-ever Lake Oswego Reads program, our bond rating upgraded to the prestigious AAA, development of a sustainability plan and enhancements to the community including the Lake Grove pathway and the completion of Hazelia Field at Stafford and Overlook.

While we are proud of these accomplishments, work remains to be done. The council's highest priority in 2008 is finding out from the community, how it would like to pay for the lake interceptor sewer. Should it be a revenue bond paid for by sewer fees; a general obligation bond, paid through a voter-approved bond measure; or a combination of both? This decision will be made this summer after ultimate costs are better defined and public input has been received.

Another top priority is ensuring the city's long-term water supply. This includes a conservation plan, and a possible partnership with the city of Tigard to increase our capacity, share the costs, preserve our water rights and provide for a long-term solution of mutual benefit. Any improvements resulting from successful discussions with Tigard would be more than five years away.

We also need to continue planning for the facility needs of the city. This includes the replacement of the fire station on South Shore and the remodel and upgrade of our maintenance facility. We also need to determine a plan to correct structural defects at city hall and to determine the possible relocation from city hall of emergency communications (9-1-1) and police.

In addition, the council will be determining the financing and potential uses of the West End Building and property. There has been much discussion regarding this property, and the council is considering following last fall's vote to retain the property by asking the voters in May to approve a bond measure for up to $20 million to retire the line of credit used to purchase the building.

A public hearing on the bond measure will be held at Lake Oswego City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.

At the same time, the council will be exploring the most beneficial uses of the building and ways to reduce the amount of the actual bond.

The top legislative priority for the Council is to approve the Lake Grove Village Plan. This plan has been through an extensive public process over the past five years. It is scheduled for a public hearing by the council on Feb. 19, and we hope to adopt it soon thereafter.

The council has focused on completing other goals and activities that were identified in last year's two-year plan, created after the election of three new councilors. These include completion of a variety of redevelopment projects related to the downtown, an outdoor lighting ordinance and our Clean Streams Plan.

Finally, we talked extensively about the need for more two-way communication and interaction with citizens. We will continue the annual Community Survey, but we also intend to look at ways to involve our citizens in a more meaningful and inclusive manner as we implement our goals for the year.

We are looking forward to the coming year and the completion of these projects so that a new mayor and councilors to be elected in November 2008 will have the ability to chart their own course.

Judie Hammerstad is mayor of Lake Oswego.