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Mays says goodbye

After eight years, Mays bids farewell as Sherwood mayor.


by: DARCI VANDENHOEK/KAZURI IMAGES - Mayor Keith Mays joins Jolly Old St. Nick during the annual Winter Festival parade held Dec. 1 in Old Town Sherwood. Mays left the mayor's office in January after four terms as Sherwood mayor.When Sherwood Mayor Keith Mays adjourned the Dec. 18 City Council meeting, he effectively closed out his eight years as mayor, and with four more years as council president, he became the longest-serving mayor in recent Sherwood history.

Mays, 43, was defeated in the November election by Bill Middleton, the city’s former police chief.

Regarding his loss, Mays is philosophical: “I was disappointed, but it happens.”

What Mays is pleased about are the numerous highlights he counts among his accomplishments over the last 12 years that he’s been involved in Sherwood politics.

One of those was securing a new Sherwood City Hall and library, a project that came in on-time and under budget. Others include numerous road improvement projects and finding a permanent water source for the city after voters approved using the Willamette River for the city’s drinking water.

But perhaps the most visible improvements came in the first phase of revamping the city’s Old Town street scape with the introduction of concrete streets, blue bollards and large concrete obelisks to mark street corners. While some residents were taken aback by the project’s blue color scheme and enormity of the concrete monuments, Mays says he’s simply reminded of the “horrible, horrible” condition downtown streets were in.

“The road surfaces and sidewalks were just bad,” he recalled

Mays said he’s equally proud of seeing the Old Cannery Plaza come to fruition, a public space complete with a water feature that has proven popular from day one and recently was site of the annual Winter Festival.

The outgoing mayor is looking forward to the future community center, a venue expected to contain a 400-seat theater as well as retail space whose merchants will pay rent to help offset costs of operating the facility along with revenue expected from those who hold special events at the center.

If all goes as planned — there might be some delay following recommendations to demolish the current shell of the building because of structural problems — the community center could open in 2013.

Although a “horrific economy definitely delayed… projects and initiatives over the years,” Mays said that when all is said and done, he expects the Old Town projects to become the “jewel of our community.”

And while speculation regarding which major box store will become the 145,000-square-foot anchor for the new shopping complex on Langer Farms Parkway, Mays believes it will all come down to whether the Northwest’s most visible retailer wants to locate.

“I believe if Fred Meyer wants to be there, it’s there,” he said. “If they don’t want to be there, there are other retailers that would jump at it.”

Regardless of the anchor store that eventually fills the space, Mays believes it will be a nice addition to the community.

Meanwhile, Mays said he’s proud of ongoing efforts to improve the city’s roads.

“Next year is going to be a big road construction year,” he pointed out.

Those projects will include Washington County’s plans to make extensive improvements to portions of Tualatin-Sherwood Road inside the city limits and a separate project involving the extension of Langer Farms Parkway, which will cross to the other side of Tualatin-Sherwood Road. That extension will curve around to the side of the Home Depot before hooking up with Highway 99W.

Once all those improvements in that area are completed, it will create better bike and pedestrian safety for anyone navigating that area, said Mays.

Mays said he’s also pleased with voters’ recent approval to annex the Tonquin Employment Area, which Mays pushed to have included in the urban growth boundary during his time as mayor.

“We’ve got light-industrial property that’s ready to be developed,” he said. “Light industrial is a good thing.”

There are plans to extend 124th Avenue all the way to Tonquin Road. Washington County is already beginning engineering studies on the project, which will provide another transportation alternative for Sherwood residents and will help out industries who decide to locate along the new roadway.

While Sherwood isn’t a warehouse/distribution hub, it can provide opportunities for high tech or software development firms, benefiting the community with family wage jobs and increasing the tax base, said Mays.

“That will help put us on a good trajectory forward,” he added.

What Mays doesn’t see in Sherwood’s future is the expansion of light rail. “We don’t meet the federal guidelines for light rail or heavy rail,” he said.

Currently, the city is part of a Southwest Corridor Study that’s looking at the best way to provide transportation along Highway 99W. Mays said he sees support for a bus rapid transit line similar to that found in Eugene, with the future holding hope for higher-capacity, higher-speed buses that would travel in dedicated lanes down Highway 99W.

“If they go that direction, they should absolutely take it to Sherwood,” he said.

Lou Ogden, Tualatin’s long-time mayor, praised Mays for being a big advocate for transportation planning, an area where Sherwood’s mayor has been creative in negotiating funding for many projects.

Ogden praised Mays for supporting sound planning and following through with projects. “You can sort of hand it off to him and know it’s going to get done,” said Ogden.

“He’s been a big advocate for 124th Avenue,” Ogden said, noting that efforts to complete 124th was a collaborative effort and “certainly we wouldn’t be there without Keith’s collaboration.”

Meanwhile, Mays also is proud of the fact that the city is in the process of doubling its trail system with Cedar Creek Trail, which will eventually extend across Highway 99W and back up to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

Mays said he’s pleased that Joe Gall is on board as the city’s newest city manager, saying during the selection process, he knew “he was an outstanding individual to pursue.”

He likes the fact too that the city was able to retain Tom Pessemier, who also applied for the city manager seat and was recently promoted to assistant city manager.

“We didn’t hit a home run; we hit a grand slam,” he said in the selection of Gall and Pessemier.

Regarding his successor, Mays said his plan is to make the transition between himself and Mayor-elect Middleton as smooth as possible.

“I know he’s working hard to learn what he doesn’t know, which is good,” said Mays. “He has a great staff and great City Council to work with, and we have a great community and it’s all going to be good.”

While he finds nothing more rewarding than getting things accomplished on a city level, don’t expect to see him running for any statewide office. “I’m not interested in partisan politics,” Mays said.

As far as his political future, Mays isn’t dismissing talk of a job at the local level. In the past, his name has been bandied about for a seat on the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and with his wide range of experience, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to see him in a Metro seat.

“We’ll see,” said Mays. “All of the above is possible.”



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