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Willey looks at growth, change in State of City speech

The public is invited to Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey’s Third Annual State of the City Speech on Thursday, Jan. 31.

The free event will be held at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St., Hillsboro. It begins with a reception at 5:15 p.m., with Willey scheduled to deliver his remarks from 6 to 7 p.m.

Willey began the annual traditional two years ago to summarize important developments that have occurred in the city in the previous year and preview some of the big issues expected to be addressed by the City Council in the coming 12 months. Hillsboro spokeswoman Barbara Simon says the remarks are still a work in progress and will not be released in advance.

Willey offered a brief preview of his upcoming speech during a Jan. 14 appearance before the Washington County Public Affairs Forum, however. At that time, he was discussing growth issues with Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax. After being introduced, Willey said his comments were intended to be a “Readers Digest version” of his State of the City Speech.

Describing 2012 as “pretty exciting” for Hillsboro, Willey said the number one accomplishment was bringing baseball to town. The Single-A Hillsboro Hops will begin its first season on June 14, with the first home game in its new state-of-the-art stadium scheduled for June 17.

Other big news included Intel’s announcement that it will build a second $3 billion fabrication plants on its Ronler Acres campus. Willey said the announcement helps explain why Washington County’s 8.7 percent employment growth rate is the highest in the country. Work on the first D1X fab is nearing completion.

And Willey told the noontime crowd that Project Azalea is continuing to generate a lot of interest. That is the code name for a secretive employer recruitment effort being undertaken by Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department. Although Willey did not offer any details, high-tech experts believe it is another large microchip manufacturer.

Looking forward, Willey made it clear he and the council are focused on how the city and county can accommodate the growth that is expected to occur in coming years. He noted Hillsboro’s population has increased from around 50,000 to more than 90,000 people during the past 20 years, with the rest of the county experiencing a similar increase.

Willey said the county can expect to absorb more than 40 percent of the 1 million additional people expected to move to the region during the next 20 years.

Key to maintaining livability is helping areas in unincorporoated Washington County plan for the future he said, noting the Aloha-Reedville study that is under way. “Figuring out how to provide urban services to unincorporoated areas is a must,” Willey said.

Willey also mentioned two transportation studies that are expected to move forward this year. One is the Tualatin Valley Highway Corridor Study that is seeking to reduce congestion and improve mobility along the heavily traveled connection between Hillsboro and Beaverton.

The other is the Westside Corridor Study initiated by the council. Willey went out of his to say this is different than the unpopular Westside Bypass study that proposed building a new freeway between Wilsonville and Hillsboro about 20 years ago.

He described it as a search for multiple solutions to help residents, workers and businesses get around better throughout the county.

“It’s been 20 years since the last study, so the time has come again for another one. But we need to have everyone at the table if its going to work, including the public, agricultural, manufacturers and environmentalists,” Willey said.




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