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Dodrill reflects on first year as mayor, focuses on downtown revitalization

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Mayor Brent Dodrill holds up a proclamation for Red Ribbon Week in October. 'I consider it a privilege to be in the position I am,' Dodrill said of his office as mayor.Last November, Brent Dodrill became Estacada’s mayor.

This week, he sat down with the Estacada News to take a look back at his first year in office.

Dodrill’s campaign had emphasized his six years of experience as a city councilor and his determination to revitalize downtown Estacada.

“I am pleased and excited to serve the city in a new way,” Dodrill was quoted on the night of his election. “I just want to keep the city moving ahead on downtown renewal. I think that’s the No. 1 issue on a lot of people’s lists.”

A year later, Dodrill indicates that it is still high on people’s lists.

As mayor, Dodrill said that the most frequently asked question he gets from citizens is, “What are we going to do about downtown and all the empty businesses?”

As for filling up those store fronts, Dodrill admits the city has not made “any huge strides.”

At least not yet.

Dodrill points to his push to tighten ties between the Estacada Development Association (EDA) and the city as his biggest accomplishment as mayor to date.

“Given that I’ve been at this a year, especially now that we have a tighter bridge with EDA, (and) I know things move painfully slow with any stage of government... I’m pleased of where we’re going,” Dodrill said.

In August, the City Council granted $40,000 to the association to bring on a full-time Main Street Program Manager.

Dodrill had told the council that he’d like the city to increase funds to the association and support it as the city’s arm for economic development.

“One of the most positive things I’ve seen moving that ahead is working more closely with the EDA and helping them with some funds to bring (Main Street Program Manager) Terra Wilcoxson on,” Dodrill said. “I guess I would point to that as the one thing I initiated as a move in that direction.”

For Dodrill, most of the ways in which Estacada could be improved are tied to economic revitalization.

Take the Estacada School District’s funding woes and declining enrollment, for instance.

“As mayor, I guess what I can do to support them is to get new people to move to Estacada,” Dodrill said, indicating that increasing enrollment would bring more money into the district.

Fire Department

A year ago, election news often shared the front page with fire bond news.

Estacada Rural Fire District No. 69 officials had hoped to pass a bond to acquire funds for a new facility to replace their nearly half-century old station. It was in need of extensive repairs to be seismically sound and comply with city codes.

Voters rejected the fire bonds on the May and November 2012 ballots.

“The city can’t legislatively fix that issue. I guess on a personal level, I can let people know (Fire Department personnel) are valid and their need for a facility is real,” said Dodrill, who served as a chaplain for the fire department for 15 years.

“In my role, I can just remind people they’re a vital part of the community,” he added. “I hope eventually they have a new facility there they can work out of, I really do. I’d be very supportive of that.”

Police Transition

In May, the Estacada City Council voted to terminate their longstanding law enforcement contract with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in favor of awarding the contract to the Sandy Police Department.

Dodrill had been the lone vote against the change.

Dodrill admits to having been nervous about the transition.

“I think of all the councilors, I had the biggest concern about the change. It was a little scary because Clackamas County has been our police force for so long and we didn’t have any obvious problems with them,” he said. “This was about saving a big chunk of money.”

However, Dodrill is quick to admit that he is no longer concerned.

“This new contract with the Sandy Police has been phenomenal,” he said. “My concerns I had were not warranted evidently. The concerns I had haven’t surfaced at all.”

Water rules controversy

Dodrill said the recent city water rules controversy has been the biggest challenge he has had to face as mayor so far.

Years ago, the city of Estacada received a sizable federal loan for water improvements, including a major upgrade to the water treatment plant.

A 2009 audit revealed that the city was not in compliance with several loan requirements.

In an effort to come into compliance with the loan, the city is requiring seven property owners whose property abuts the city’s water system to connect to that system.

The seven property owners stand to be financially responsible for thousands of dollars in system development charges (SDC) in addition to a monthly water bill.

“At this point, that’s been my biggest challenge and staff is even now working really hard to find an equitable solution and I think we found one that they’re going to be really happy with,” Dodrill said.

Dodrill said that solution will be made public at the next council meeting on Monday, Nov. 25.

Pastor/Mayor

Dodrill is simultaneously holding leadership roles in city government and the Baptist church.

“People have commented and continue to comment that it’s kind of a unique combination of roles being a pastor and a mayor,” Dodrill said. “I don’t see it as a weird combination since they’re both roles to serve people.”

In that sense, Dodrill said he doesn’t see his role as mayor as political.

Dodrill also doesn’t see partisanship as playing a role in Estacada city government.

“I couldn’t tell you what (Republican or Democrat) the councilors are... I haven’t asked them, and I don’t think I need to,” he said.

Looking ahead

In addition to continuing the effort to revitalize downtown Estacada, Dodrill said he would like to see businesses come to the Estacada Industrial Campus.

Among other goals, Dodrill said that he would like to bring the Cazadero and Springwater biking and walking trails to Estacada.

“In my tenure I want to be as proactive as we can be to see those trails come to Estacada and beyond,” he said.

Throughout the interview, Dodrill emphasized his “positive approach” to governing the city.

“I hope that I can serve well and whenever I’m done being mayor and I look back on it, I can say ‘I did some good things’ and the city can look back on it and say ‘yeah, some good things happened,’” Dodrill said.



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