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Mayor looks back on some of the citys biggest events, forecasts the coming year

Tualatin Mayor Lou OgdenLooking back on the 2012 calendar year, Mayor Lou Ogden can quickly identify several victories in Tualatin, ranging from making headway on major transportation projects to job growth.

Last month, the city reached an agreement with Wilsonville and Washington County regarding the east-west alignment in the Basalt Creek area.

“It was a huge agreement,” Ogden said. “It really is the blueprint for our major transportation corridor around and out of Tualatin as it exists today. That will provide relief for a lot of our westside industrial traffic, and then of course it opens up the development opportunity for Basalt Creek, which is all the area between Tualatin and Wilsonville.”

Seven Citizen Involvement Organizations were established throughout Tualatin’s neighborhoods.

Last June, local semiconductor manufacturer Novellus Systems Inc. was acquired by Lam Research Corporation, resulting in the addition of nearly 200 full-time jobs in the area. As the facility expanded, Lam became the single largest property taxpayer in Tualatin, Ogden said.

Reddaway Trucking relocated its corporate headquarters to the city in August.

“The businesses that grow here will add to the city finances to help maintain high quality of services that we can provide to people who live here,” Ogden said.

“Collectively, well over 1,000 jobs were added, with more to come in 2013,” he added.

Portland General Electric is in the process of expanding the old Coca Cola building on Southwest Avery Street, where it will establish PGE maintenance headquarters.

“The past year automatically segues into what I’m looking forward to in the future year, because most of these things are not one-dimensional or episodic, but have a life of their own,” he said.

The year 2012 also marks the birth of the Transportation System Plan, a long-range overview of transit improvement projects. Finalizing the plan took the better part of 12 months, with the city calling for public input both online and in a town hall-style summit last fall.

And all the while, the city managed to avoid resorting to layoffs as so many other cities and special districts have done in light of budget cuts.

“It’s indicative that the city is in good financial footing,” Ogden said.

Still, he warned the city’s revenue and expense lines were projected to cross in about 18 months if the city didn’t enact substantial changes.

“Part of our focus will be on economic development,” Ogden said, pointing out that Tualatin has the distinct advantage of having a nearly 50/50 split between residential and business taxes. Not only did this balance the city’s revenue stream, he added, it meant a healthy work-life balance is occurring in Tualatin.

In a sign of changing economic times, Kmart on Nyberg Road shuttered for good — but it freed up a prime piece of commercial real estate. CenterCal Properties signed a long-term lease on the property and is in the process of submitting development plans for a new retail center, which could potentially bring dozens of additional jobs to the area.

Looking ahead at 2013, the Tualatin City Council has a potential move to acknowledge: Seneca Street will likely be realigned to accommodate the as-yet untitled project. Such a development would put a street through current council offices.

“I don’t see the city going out and building a new city hall,” Ogden said. “That would require a bond measure, and in this economy, I don’t think people need to have taxes raised with a bond measure. I would imagine some sort of construction added on behind the current administration building. If we do have a new building, it won’t be a grandiose new government center.”

As Ogden put it, “There’s a lot of dirt being turned in 2013.”

Politics and progress

Last year’s election didn’t bring any changes to Tualatin City Council, which Ogden views as an advantage.

“That really keeps our continuity, keeps our historical perspective, our institutional working knowledge,” he said.

He also values the continuity of retaining former Tualatin mayor Roy Rogers as county commissioner, as well as the return of state representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn). Ogden views her, like former Tigard mayor Craig Dirksen, to be “a strong advocate for Tualatin. He praised Parrish for working across the aisle in her first term.

Meanwhile, political shifts in neighboring cities will have a significant impact on the city, he said.

“We’ve got three brand-new mayors on three of our five bordering cities,” he pointed out, referring to Kent Studebaker of Lake Oswego, Bill Middleton of Sherwood and John L. Cook of Tigard.

Dirksen’s decision to resign in order to accept a seat on the Metro Council could prove a boon locally.

“That’s huge, it brings a neighborhood boy to a very important position,” Ogden said. “He’ll be a strong advocate for Tigard, Tualatin, Wilsonville and Sherwood. He knows Tualatin, he knows our government.”

What’s ahead for 100-year-old Tualatin?

As Tualatin enters its centennial year, Ogden said he wants to focus on what he calls “the suburban smile” — the crescent of cities under Portland, from Forest Grove to Tigard to Tualatin, Sherwood, Happy Valley and Gladstone.

“We want to concentrate our economic development efforts on that smile, to focus on how economic development for the smaller towns can strategically fit with the economic development that’s going on in Portland itself, as well as in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Gresham,” he said.

As an example, Ogden illustrated how semiconductor giant Intel is supported by Tualatin-based manufacturers such as Lam Research Inc., Fujimi Inc., and Mega Fluid Systems Inc., both located in Tualatin.

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