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Farewell, for now, and thank you

by: ,

It has been a privilege for me to represent the residents of Clackamas County on the Metro Council since 2003. I am deeply grateful to the voters for putting their trust in me and giving me the opportunity to serve them for the past five years.

Effective Oct. 6, I am vacating my seat on the Metro Council to become Director of Campus Planning and Development at Oregon Health and Science University. Resigning from the Metro Council is not something that I considered lightly and was certainly not something that I anticipated when I was re-elected 16 months ago.

Significant life changes, such as this, are often unpredictable and rarely come along at convenient times. I would have preferred to make a transition at the end of my current council term, but that was not possible. Fortunately, I am departing at a time when several of my priority projects are completed or well on their way to implementation.

Last year I worked closely with local government officials and representatives of the development industry to identify a funding source to pay for the land use planning of the areas added to the urban growth boundary. Through this effort the Metro Council adopted a nominal fee on new construction to fund planning, the first program of its type in the country.

When I was first running for the Metro Council, I pledged to better connect Clackamas County to the rest of the region with high-capacity public transit. Five years later we have light rail under construction along I-205, the state Legislature just dedicated $250 million to extend light rail from Portland to Milwaukie and we are well under way with the planning for a streetcar extension to Lake Oswego. Within a decade all three of these lines should be operating.

Eighteen months ago I asked the Metro Council to fund a master plan update for the Oregon Zoo. They supported this request and appointed me to lead the effort on behalf of the council. In October I will present a plan that will place the Oregon Zoo at the national forefront of wildlife conservation efforts and will provide a financial and management strategy to ensure the zoo's success for years to come.

Finally, for the past two years I have led the council's efforts to support nature-friendly development practices to protect critical habitat areas and water quality. One major project is 'Integrating Habitats,' an international design competition to solicit the best ideas for nature-friendly site planning and development. Registration for the competition just opened and we have more than 100 students and professionals signed up to participate in the competition.

These are just the highlights of some projects that I have had the opportunity to work on during my tenure on the Metro Council. Certainly, many challenges remain, but I have a great degree of confidence in the leadership of Council President Bragdon and my council colleagues to continue this good work on behalf of the residents of the region.

As for me, I will continue my efforts to manage growth and create great places. However, my professional role and the scope of my work will be different. Instead of shaping regional policies, I will be working to implement change on the ground and to shape the future of one large institution, OHSU, on Marquam Hill and its new campus in South Waterfront.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you on the Metro Council. It has been the best job I have ever had and I will miss it very much.

Brian Newman, Lake Oswego, is a Metro Councilor, who, effective Oct. 6, will become director of campus Planning and Development at Oregon Health and Science University.