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How a city uses its land shapes its future

On Monday, Feb. 25, Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax gave his State of the City Address at the noon luncheon of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce. Here are excerpts:

Land use and transportation are key areas of concern when it comes to the future of any city and Forest Grove is no different.

If we are to prosper, if we are to meet our growth requirements and if we are to continue to meet our goals as a [city] council, we need to be able to move people and goods efficiently and, at the same time, make sure the land around us is preserved for those who follow us.

There are three very important plots of land that we have impacted in Forest Grove during the past year. And these pieces of land serve as examples of what we can do in the community by working together.

First of all, we are working with groups such as Friends of Historic Forest Grove to develop a solid plan for the land surrounding the A.T. Smith House. Located just south of Highway 47 and just off of Elm Street, the Smith House is that link to Forest Grove’s past.

The city is looking at ways to make that site more accessible to those who want to study our past, those who want to teach us about our heritage and those who want to the opportunity to explore the uniqueness that is Forest Grove. A.T. Smith is still contributing to Forest Grove.

Second, we purchased just under three acres of land north of Lincoln Park to add to that jewel in the middle of town. As we develop that land into perhaps picnic areas [or] play areas, and as we preserve the wetlands and fashion an appropriate welcome to Forest Grove along Sunset Drive, we are reminded of all that Lincoln Park is and all that it can become. That purchase requires that we update our parks’ master plan to include an expanded Lincoln Park.

Third, we have reclaimed Fernhill [Wetlands]. Bill Gaffi, director of Clean Water Services, put it very well when he stated that this project makes it easier for people to connect with nature and to inspire them to make good choice about our water resources.

And Clean Water Services is just one in a number of partners that made this possible. Washington County, Fernhill Wetlands Council, Metro, Oregon State Parks, Washington County Visitors Association, Friends of Historic Forest Grove … all of these organizations have contributed in varying degrees to the success story that is Fernhill.

And, through the process of island annexation, we have welcomed new citizens to Forest Grove. Some have not come willingly, but nonetheless, their addition will benefit all in allowing us to be more proactive in planning and development, for example, around street and utility improvements.

This year our community development office processed 231 building permits totaling some $53 million in value. That is up from 188 permits, valued at $36 million the year before, continuing a rise from the depths of the recession of 2008 and 2009. We also celebrated the opening of Juniper Gardens and the planning for Juniper Gardens II, which are affordable housing projects under the auspices of Bienestar.

These projects are again conscious efforts to fulfill a community role and responsibility to help people help themselves and welcome their contributions to society.

In the waning days of 2012 we purchased the Times-Litho property for some $800,000. That was by a 4-3 vote of council. The vote was divided but our shared dream for Forest Grove is not.

I am confident that in February of 2014, we will be back in front of you talking about the progress we have made in development of the Times-Litho property.

We move forward in Forest Grove. Living in this city is now part of my DNA: all the progress we have made in the past year ... the newer additions, which will grow in our collective memory ... and all those intangibles that make Forest Grove a wonderful place for us to call home.




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