City council seeks vision, sets goals
By Carol Rosen
The Canby City Council spent the morning of March 3 looking at goals and discussing and planning for the future of the city's parks and recreation future as well looking toward to the city's future growth.
Council members first questioned whether older master plans need to be updated. For example, looking at the future for parks, some counselors felt that Canby has reached a surfeit of pocket parks and that the city needs to shift toward recreation and community centers that would provide fields for baseball, soccer, basketball courts. jogging trails and hiking paths like the emerald necklace.
"We no longer need smaller parks, which offer tot lots that kids grow out of by the time they are six or seven," said one counselor. Another, and it appeared most agreed, "…we don't want developers to determine our parks."
The upshot is to de-emphasize pocket parks and provide parks offering lasting and year-round use. Such parks would prove a boon for the city residents and bring in tourists, said one speaker. They suggested public meetings and input, including ideas from all residents including students, senior citizens and everyone in between.
They further questioned the need to reflect today's needs with a new master plan.
Council member Sarah Spoon added further support for new park assessments; a method of the city and its committees to determine where parkland would be instead of letting developers determine sites for parks.
"It's time to update park visions and start looking for a new vision," she said.
One counselor estimated it will take about six months to find a suitable location site and a minimum of two years to build a community center.
There also was an ongoing theme of questioning where to put these larger parks; should they be within walking distance to homes or take a more regional posture to better serve the city's residents?
Another potential question is using the parks committee to accomplish more work.
They later joked about how hard the Safety Committee works and how much they'd like to see the park's commission do the same. This would allow the parks commission to develop and write working guidelines and to come up with plans the city council can later decide on.
"We need to update our vision. It's time to start looking for a new vision, like taking land instead of SDCs," Spoon said. "Change our acquisition plan because it's out of date." She also suggested that staff and the committee update plans every five years.
The city has system development costs of close to $3 million.
Several members suggested these be used to develop, update and purchase land plus investing in areas the city is lacking like bathrooms and benches for trails and updating equipment. Spoon also suggested a sound system for Wait Park.
Turning to Canby's future growth, there already are some changes coming. For improving Canby's visibility downtown, the city is planting sequoia trees to arch over Grant Avenue at First Street and the railroad tracks where the city could hang banners.
Another change, according to City Manager Rick Robinson is within the staff, For example, Bryan Brown, the planning commissioner, plans to retire in a couple of years. Robinson plans to hire an assistant for Brown who will take those two years to learn the job inside and out, including the most important issues around land use.
"It's a tough position to fill," Robinson said, suggesting that Brown will work with the new assistant given the time to learn the job. "It's been proposed for the budget and if the salaries and job description are approved then we'll begin looking for an assistant in July with an October starting date. It's a tough position to fill, but it's a fairly common decision for a city staff," Robinson said.
He added that staff, over the next few years, is likely to see a significant number of people retiring shifting positions and moving. He suggested it wasn't a violation to be discussing this because they aren't making decisions, but becoming aware of a potential problems.
Another council member asked if a community room could be added on the back side of the community pool. Members discussed the financial aspects as well as the current lease and the feasibility of adding a room on to a leased building.
It seemed by the conversation, that not all council members were content to follow that direction.
Other questions looked at future planning for developments.
These included concerns regarding density transfers, developers land use and road or street blocks. Density transfers are too loose now, they seemed to agree and developers too often draw in large lots they don't intend to develop. Both sides need some discretion, a counselor said, but some lot sizes would benefit more from Lincoln Logs than from actual building materials.
Basically, the counselors said they were aware of developers' abusive tactics calling it "gaming the numbers" within their density plans and talking about ways to counteract them. "We don't want to give so much land away. Too often the first developer in gets most of the land to be dedicated to parks. This can create problems with no places to park and other problems."
Other discussion included possibly starting counsel sessions at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. and reading through the session packets earlier so they could get some understanding before the meeting instead of having items explained during the meeting.