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City councilors discuss Times-Litho payment

Forest Grove city councilors Monday night discussed paying off the city’s December purchase of the Times-Litho building at the west end of downtown with money from the years-ago sale of Fernhill Wetlands property, which has been sitting in a capital-projects fund.

Councilors had thought they might need that money to pay $1.5 million or more after losing a development-related lawsuit, but the recent settlement of that suit’s appeal has freed it up.

City Finance Director Paul Downey looked into taking out a loan to pay off the entire $800,000 amount, but councilors seemed to feel the loan terms were too costly.

Councilor Camille Miller said it was a “no brainer” to purchase the property with the capital-projects money, particularly since it makes virtually no interest in that fund.

Councilor Elena Uhing cautioned that the Times-Litho project will likely need more city money beyond the basic purchase price, based on comments from various developers who have looked at it.

Councilor Victoria Lowe said the Fernhill Wetlands sale money was to be used for parks and should go back into the capital-projects fund when a developer buys the property from the city. Other councilors supported that idea.

FGF&R seeks program donations

Forest Grove Fire & Rescue is seeking donations for its annual Firepup education program, which includes lessons in general fire safety, burn prevention, dialing 911, smoke alarms, senior safety and other topics.

Collaborating with the National Fire Safety Council Inc., the FGF&R program provides materials to area schools and visits by firefighters. The average cost per child is $2.50, said Chief Michael Kinkade.

Checks can be made payable to National Fire Safety Council Inc. and mailed to the following address: Forest Grove Fire Department, Attn.: Fire Inspector Dave Nemeyer, 1919 Ash St., Forest Grove, OR 97116. Donations are tax deductible.

Transportation plan update reaches planning commission

The Forest Grove Planning Commission will hold a work session next week to review a draft of a transportation plan update that extends the 20-year planning period from 2030 to 2035; brings the plan into conformance with the Portland Metropolitan Regional Transportation System Plan adopted in 2010; and includes an assessment of possible traffic impacts from land-use changes being considered as part of an update to the Forest Grove Comprehensive Plan.

The work session is set for 7 p.m. Monday, May 20 in the Forest Grove Community Auditorium, 1915 Main St., and is open to the public.

Information about the transportation plan update will also be available at the city’s booth at the Forest Grove Farmers Market Wednesday, May 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. For more information, call city senior planner Dan Riordan at 503-992-3226 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Librarian appointed to state board

Ismoon Hunter-Morton, Forest Grove Library’s adult services librarian, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Oregon State Library. She was confirmed by the Senate April 30 and will serve on the board 4 years.

Life jackets available at Hagg Lake

Visitors to Hagg Lake in Washington County will again have life jackets to borrow for their children who plan to swim in the popular lake thanks to the Safe Kids Washington County Coalition. Every year at this time the group of public safety-minded volunteers provides personal floatation devices or PFDs at two locations: the Sain Creek Picnic Area and Boat Ramp C Recreation Area.

“Both of these areas attract a lot of families with children,” said Fire Chief Roger Mesenbrink of the Gaston Rural Fire Protection District. “We want to ensure that the kids who swim here are safe.” Gaston firefighters, along with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, respond frequently to the lake for emergencies.

City officials propose water rate hike

Forest Grove City Manager Michael Sykes said May 10 that city officials are proposing to raise water rates by 8 percent in July. The increase continues to implement the results of a rate study conducted in 2011, which concluded the water utility needs the increase to keep up with maintenance and capital infrastructure needs, Sykes said.

The average residential customer will see their water bill increase by approximately $2.31 a month.

Even with the increase, Sykes noted, Forest Grove water rates continue to be among the lowest in the region and the state. The city uses revenues from timber harvest receipts from its 4,500-acre watershed to help offset rates and pay for infrastructure improvements, he added.

The city shares Hagg Lake water with its neighbors in Hillsboro and Beaverton. The Scoggins Dam is owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Recent seismic studies found the dam could be severely damaged in the event of a large earthquake and therefore will have to undergo an “expensive seismic retrofit” in the next decade. Forest Grove will have to participate in that repair, according to Sykes.

Forest Grove’s share is estimated to be around $4 million.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate increase at 7:30 p.m. June 10 in the Community Auditorium, 1915 Main St.