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Basalt Creek planning getting started in earnest


600-acre concept area separates Wilsonville and Tualatin; it is crucial for both cities' futures

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Basalt Creek planning area counts Day Road, shown here at its intersection with Grahams Ferry Road, as its southern boundary. The 600-acre area is being jointly planned for future development by Wilsonville and Tualatin. Wilsonville and Tualatin will be teaming up this summer in an unprecedented way, part of a joint effort to develop the unincorporated Basalt Creek area that connects the two cities.

The two cities have very different plans for Basalt Creek, an unincorporated swath of land roughly 600 acres in size stretching north from Day Road in Wilsonville to the Tualatin city limits. Tualatin primarily will look to expand its residential housing stock. Wilsonville, meanwhile, has long coveted the area for industrial development to go alongside the adjacent Coffee Creek industrial area.

Getting to the end point thus presents numerous challenges, not least of which is the need to gain public consent in both cities for each step in what is expected to be a two-year process.

“We’re making a lot of progress. It’s a little different structure, here, than we’ve used with other projects,” said Wilsonville Long Range Planning Manager Katie Mangle at an April 21 city council work session.

Metro included the Basalt Creek area in the Urban Growth Boundary to help meet industrial and residential land demand in the region over the next 20 years. As such, the concept plan will cover a host of issues, including future city boundaries for both Wilsonville and Tualatin; land uses, including industrial, residential, parks and greenways; transportation infrastructure and connectivity between mass transit and automobiles and pedestrians; provision of urban services, including water and sewer lines.

A formal partnering agreement details the level of collaboration between the respective city councils, which will meet jointly at key milestones to make decisions and guide the project.

Separate from that process involving elected officials and government is the public involvement effort both cities will be mounting as the summer kicks off. This will include, Mangle said, public meetings, surveys, open houses, as well as a sophisticated online campaign that will incorporate social media to provide informational updates and announcements.

Already, interviews and focus group meetings are underway to help identify the roles of the various project partners involved, both in the public and private sectors.

“This summer we’ll have a big workshop, and later on an open house,” Mangle said. “We’ll share ideas and concerns and I think it’s going to be fun, but maybe that’s because I’m a dorky, wonky planning person and I think public meetings can be fun. But as public meetings go I think it’s going to be pretty fun.”

The public involvement plan is a “living document,” Mangle said, that can be adjusted throughout the project if needed.

In the end, both city councils will have to sign off on the final Basalt Creek Concept Plan, which will include guiding principles, a preferred land use scenario, provision of public services and future jurisdictional boundaries. The final plan also will require Metro approval. But once it is complete, both cities hope that Basalt Creek will fill many of the development needs each is looking to focus on in coming years.

Mangle admitted that things were slightly behind schedule at present, mainly because of a need to properly schedule and issue public notice on planned meetings involving public bodies.

“I think we’re anticipating it to be a little slower than we hoped,” she said. “We’re meeting weekly with the Tualatin staff, so we’ve got our noses to the grindstone.”

“I think we’re all interested in having an open, high quality public process,” Mayor Tim Knapp added. “So we end up with a product that everyone is solid on. So, I think we delay the timetable, if that’s what it takes to do that.”