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West Linn City Council sets 2013 priorities

Goals include bolstering city services, amenities


The West Linn City Council has set itself some lofty goals for 2013.

The council held a retreat last weekend to set its priorities for the year. On the list is transportation, an aquatic center, the Blue Heron property, water infrastructure and economic development.

Over the course of two days, councilors fine-tuned a to-do list that will tackle supporting business in the city and providing services to its residents.by: CITY OF WEST LINN - The 2013 city council is, from left, Mike Jones, Jody Carson, Mayor John Kovash, Jenni Tan and Thomas Frank.

Mayor John Kovash said the retreat went smoothly. “It felt positive and collaborative and there were a lot of good ideas,” he said.

Transportation

The council aims to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety and opportunities throughout the city. Part of this process will include the adoption and implementation of the master trails plan, according to City Manager Chris Jordan.

“Implementation is a big part of that,” Jordan said.

Another aspect of transportation to be addressed is the traffic flow on Willamette Falls Drive in the Willamette area and on Salamo Road by Rosemont Ridge Middle School. Both areas get backed up during peak travel hours and are heavily used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

“I would love to see a stoplight at Rosemont and Salamo. That’s pragmatic. It is so important to our children,” Councilor Mike Jones said.

The city also needs to update its transportation systems plan so it complies with the state plan that was adopted a couple of years ago.

Aquatic center

A task force in support of constructing an aquatic center in West Linn wants to conduct another community survey to see if there is support for a less expensive outdoor facility.

The council will be directing a survey to be completed by May 1 with results received by the task force by June 1. Then the task force will report to the city council by Aug. 1 with a recommendation on whether to add the aquatic center to the November ballot.

Blue Heron

The council is continuing its 2012 goal for this 39-acre property, which is near Willamette Park, bordering the Willamette River, and is the former property of the bankrupt Blue Heron Paper Company.

The process is currently on hold as the county addresses remediation efforts on the site.

The goals include creating a master plan for the site, forming an agreement with the county and adopting the master plan. Ideas for the site’s use range from camping to a hotel.

Water infrastructure

The council hopes to have a strategy in place by the end of the year to address the city’s water storage and maintenance needs.

The council voted early this year to remove a measure from the March ballot that would have asked for an 18 percent increase to the city water rate to start repairing and replacing the city’s aging infrastructure. The council made this move to avoid confusion with the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership water plant and pipeline projects, which include a $5 million payment to West Linn for its water system.

Economic development

Keeping the stress on economic development, the council made it a goal again this year. The majority of the council said they think this is the most important priority for the year.

“The most important goal is economic development as the investment that we make now will reap exponential benefits for our local economy and overall livability,” Councilor Jenni Tan said.

The council hopes to secure grant funding to develop a concept plan to redevelop the arch bridge area, which could revitalize the area for commercial and residential development and promote tourism of the nearby Willamette Falls.

“I am very excited about our economic development goal,” Councilor Thomas Frank said. “The arch bridge area provides the city an exciting opportunity for us to take a closer look how we would like that area to better serve us. We have the ability to create a unique gateway to West Linn, realign roads and integrate the natural and historic aspects of the region.”

The city hopes the arch bridge area gets a state heritage designation and would like to move toward a national heritage designation.

“I think the arch bridge area is probably the most exciting thing,” Kovash said. “It would revitalize an area of West Linn. ... It would be a real focal point for the city.”

Kovash said there is a lot of synergy in that area right now as Oregon City is also working on its side of the bridge thanks to grant funding.

Also in the realm of economic development, the council wants to streamline the city’s efficiencies and processes for businesses.

Areas of interest

Other areas the city council will be keeping tabs on in 2013 include long-term financial stability, the new police station, the city’s centennial celebration, supporting small businesses, the neighborhood association presidents group and security at city hall.

Another change the council would like to make this year is to start holding some of its work sessions outside of city hall walls.

Jordan expressed optimism for the city and the council to achieve its goals this year, adding that some resources may need to be reallocated to address them.

“I think what I’m most excited about with these goals is that they combine the pragmatic with the potential for positive future growth and economic development in West Linn,” Jones said.




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