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Metro to see grant fight on OC, Happy Valley avenues

Oregon City is not giving up on its bid to get Metro’s $4.58 million for Molalla Avenue projects.

Although Mayor Doug Neeley was voted down 8-1 at an initial Metro grant committee meeting, he and other Oregon City leaders hope the project from Beavercreek Road to Highway 213 will address travel safety and connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists with modified lane configurations, new curb alignments and median treatments.

Committee members last month favored Happy Valley’s bike-lane and sidewalk project on Southeast 129th Avenue to provide safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists between Mountain Gate Road and Scott Creek Lane. Happy Valley’s 129th Avenue project is only asking Metro for $2.72 million. Jason Tuck, city manager for Happy Valley, said he would be very surprised if JPACT were to flip-flop on a Clackamas County committee’s decision after Metro indicated that it wanted to have more input from the local jurisdictions.

“Decisions get made, and you suck it up and proceed,” Tuck said. “Sure, anything can happen, but what has happened in the past is that JPACT affirms the C4 decision, and to change that would be a significant deviation.”

Ted Leybold, Metro transportation planning manager, said “it will be interesting to see what happens” when citizens rally behind various projects at the full county committee meeting on Sept. 5, but Neeley had a bit more hope for when the regional transportation committee starts reviewing plans on Sept. 12.

Across the Portland region, Metro is preparing to give out $94.58 million this year in “flexible” funding to jurisdictions promising to spend the federal dollars on bicycle, pedestrian and/or freight transportation projects in the next three to five years. The Metro Council is scheduled to hear regional transportation committee recommendations on Oct. 10.

“We’ll take our arguments forward, and unless they find our arguments very persuasive, it’s hard for me to imagine that both JPACT and the Metro Council will ignore Clackamas County’s recommendation,” Neeley said, noting that Oregon City has spent about $10,000 so far on $1 million in expected design costs.

Both projects will help out low-income populations, leaders say.

Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band has emphasized, as criteria for the grant, the underserved populations in that area that the Molalla Avenue project would serve. There are three assisted living facilities along this stretch of roadway whose residents frequently walk, scoot or wheel themselves to the Fred Meyer, Goodwill, BiMart and post office that also are along that corridor.

“I think these populations are more defined as underserved than Happy Valley, which is an affluent neighborhood,” Band said. “There are also several apartment complexes and a huge trailer park (I think about 200 homes) behind 1840 Molalla Avenue; lots of foot and bike traffic.”

Tuck strongly disagreed with Band’s assessment, saying that Happy Valley, indeed, has low-income populations on opposite ends of 129th Avenue who have no way to walk along the important thoroughfare.

“The reality check said that Oregon City already had these sidewalks,” Tuck said. “We have these large populations centers on either side of 129th Avenue, and they can’t get to the other side by biking or walking.”

Other Metro grants

Oregon City and Happy Valley projects were among the recipients of the third round of Community Planning and Development Grants that Metro Council approved on Aug. 15.

Happy Valley got $53,100 for its Rock Creek Employment Center Infrastructure Funding Plan, and Oregon City's Willamette Falls Legacy Project got $300,000.

Happy Valley will create an infrastructure funding plan to encourage “development ready” sites in what's identified as a Regionally Significant Industrial/Employment Area with approximately 200 buildable acres.

The purpose of Oregon City's grant is to complete a master plan and rezoning of the former Blue Heron paper-mill site.

This planning project aims to respect the history and nature on the 23 arces while providing needed certainty to developers by removing or reducing barriers to construction projects.

"This project also complements nicely the city of West Linn’s grant award for a master plan and financing strategy for the Bolton area on the west end of the Arch Bridge," said Metro spokesman Ken Ray.

Twenty projects across the region received funding for a total of $4.2 million. Metro targets these grants at projects to assist cities and counties in getting specific areas ready for development. Governments identify these areas to bring increased housing options and more jobs for their residents.

Created in 2006, the program distributed a total of $9.9 million in the Metro region in its previous two grant cycles. Funding for these planning grants comes from a regional excise tax on construction permits.

A screening committee of development professionals, architects, planners and Metro Chief Operating Officer Martha Bennett evaluated 26 grant applications from local governments. Councilors reviewed the funding recommendations and made the final funding decisions unanimously.




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