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Rare Metro visit draws grateful, hopeful partners

A long lineup of Washington County crusaders awaited the seven Metro councilors when they held their regular meeting in Forest Grove last week.

Representatives from Oregon Walks, Tuality Healthcare, Westside Transportation Alliance, the chambers of commerce for Forest Grove/Cornelius and Hillsboro, the Westside Economic Alliance, the Northwest Bicycle Safety Council, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Pacific University and the governments of Forest Grove and Cornelius all stepped to the front of Forest Grove’s community auditorium to offer updates, requests and thanks to the regional-government council that usually meets in its Portland headquarters.

The councilors, in turn, agreed that while it’s a long slog to Forest Grove from the east side of the Willamette River, it was worth the trip.

The meeting was a warm and welcome exchange between representatives from Metro and its two western-most cities, which in rockier times have complained about being ignored and occasionally even considered seceding from Metro, a government that once inadvertently left them off its boundary map.

Citizen communications included input from Jenny Cadigan, executive director of the Westside Transportation Alliance, who thanked Councilor Kathryn Harrington for her support and praised Metro’s Climate-Smart Communities and Active Transportation programs.

Pam Treece, executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance, thanked Metro councilors for their hard work on House Bill 4078.

Doug Barrett, chairman of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce board of directors, appreciated Metro’s support for developing the Venetian Theatre into a restaurant and performance space.

Lisa Frank of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which has 7,000 supporters in Washington County, stated that “World-class bike routes shouldn’t end at the West Hills or at the end of the MAX line.”

And Aloha resident Luis Nava thanked Metro for its help in creating a disc golf course near Blue Lake — and suggested Washington County needed one as well.

Meanwhile, Metro’s council had its fans in far-western Washington County as well.

“All these people here in the room is a sign we’re not the only ones who want to speak with our Metro councilors,” said Bridget Cooke, executive director of Adelante Mujeres, a Forest Grove-based nonprofit that helps empower low-income Latinas.

Cooke listed Adelante’s numerous connections to Metro, which “was one of the first organizations to reach out to us to use our expertise to reach out to the Hispanic community.”

The councilors also got thanks from Bev Maughan, executive assistant to Forest Grove’s city manager, for funding citywide cleanups that include document shredding, which is popular with residents. Maughan said she always mentions Metro’s role to grateful participants.

Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax said he’d like to get councilors back out this summer so they can tour the Forest Grove Farmers Market and ride the GroveLink bus route.

He thanked councilors for providing the money behind the city’s Community Enhancement Program, which is so popular the city can never fund all the projects applying for help.

Local improvement efforts range from public art to historic preservation to uniforms for youth sports activities and much more.

Truax also noted the city is about to submit its updated comprehensive plan, which includes a 1,500-unit expansion of residential capacity.

And he noted the city’s new Sustainability Committee, which prompted Councilor Carlotta Collette to suggest that “Forest Grove is in some ways a model for the region.”

Councilor Sam Chase thanked Truax for his “spirit of cooperation and partnership” on the Metro Policy Advisory Committee.

Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin thanked Metro for several helpful grants and reminded councilors of how Cornelius stands out from other Metro cities, such as being the only “minority majority” population, with Latinos making up more than 50 percent of its residents.

Cornelius has the lowest median income of any city in the metro area, Dalin said, as well as the greatest imbalance of residential-to-industrial property — a figure which has come up in the past when Cornelius has tried to persuade Metro councilors to bring more land inside the city’s urban growth boundary so it could be used for industrial development.

Metro Council President Tom Hughes (a former Hillsboro mayor) thanked Dalin for piloting a city with such challenging statistics.

“Your leadership provides a certain amount of calmness,” Hughes said.

Dalin, an Intel employee, also noted that Cornelius has been changing, as seen in the relatively new neighborhoods of $250,000 homes that are filled with employees from Hillsboro’s corporate giants, Intel and Genentech.

Lesley Hallick, president of Pacific University, touted the school’s many branches that reach throughout Washington County and beyond, from its Forest Grove campus to its health-professions satellite in Hillsboro to the Beaverton eye clinic that gets periodic visits from famous athletes visiting nearby Nike, to outposts in Woodburn and Portland.

Hallick took several opportunities to promote the idea of extending the Hillsboro MAX line to Forest Grove, noting that Portland is home to a large number of Pacific employees — almost as many as live in the Forest Grove/Cornelius area.

Metro councilors decide which light rail projects have priority when it comes to handing out federal funds.

The council’s only actual local business last Tuesday was its approval of a resolution to grant an easement to the city of Forest Grove for another development connected with the B Street Trail.

City officials had requested the easement to bolster grant applications for the new trail project.

Metro Chief Operating Officer Martha Bennett announced that maintenance activities, including invasive-species removal, will begin soon at Chehalem Ridge, funded by money from Metro’s recent natural-areas levy.

She also noted the many other Metro natural areas around Forest Grove, including Penstemon Prairie and Fernhill Forest.



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  • 21 Oct 2014

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  • 22 Oct 2014

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