New councilors join in day-long brainstorming session

Economic and business development top the list of goals set recently by the Estacada City Council.

The council met at the Estacada Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 26, to engage in a goal-setting session.

Mayor Brent Dodrill said that the council plans to focus its efforts on five key areas over the next 12 months.

Dodrill said the council plans to further develop the city’s urban renewal area and downtown riverside area plan.

“That plan is developed, on paper, and had a lot of good community input,” Dodrill said. “We need to take the next real practical steps in moving that ahead.”

Dodrill said he and the councilors are looking to put together an economic development commission comprised of citizens and business leaders “to talk about how to make businesses as viable as possible in Estacada.”

Ideally, Dodrill said, the city would be able to have a staff member devoted entirely to economic development.

“That would be great,” he said. “We just don’t have the money to make that happen right now.”

Community development is another area being prioritized at by the council. Maintenance of the restrooms at city parks has proven problematic, and so have the median strips placed along Highway 224.

“There’s no clear plan on how to make them fully benefit the city,” Dodrill said. “They haven’t been utilized or maintained.”

Councilors examined ways to partner with groups within the community to shoulder some of those responsibilities.

“We’re developing a plan that involves having staff do more with the council holding them accountable,” Dodrill said.

Issues pertaining to essential services and infrastructure also were considered at the council goal-setting session. Street safety is a top priority, prompting a discussion on the possibility of having a seasonal gas tax to fund needed repairs.

Dodrill said tourists come through the area during the summer and impact the city’s streets, but do not pay to maintain them.

But a seasonal tax would be a way to capture some funds from outside of the city without passing costs on to Estacada residents.

“A funding stream could help us deal with some of the street problems,” Dodrill said. “But we’re not making any plans yet.”

In the area of public safety, the council wants to consider at alternatives to contracting with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office for police protection.

“Staff will look at that more urgently,” Dodrill said.

Councilors also want to utilize existing neighborhood watch programs and build on them.

Dodrill said that a list of policies or core values is going to be developed to help guide the council and city staff in all of their decisions.

“A number of cities have those in place, and we want to look more closely at that,” he said.

Overall, Dodrill described the day-long brainstorming session as productive, and said new councilors Ed Smith, Rob Gaskill and Curt Steininger provided valuable input to the process.

“They were very engaged, and have a lot to learn,” Dodrill said. “It’s quite the learning process to see how everything works.”

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