Molalla's Visioning Project held a public meeting on Dec. 5. Consultant Bill Flood spoke to about 15 people, turning them into several groups to determine how current Molalla values will grow and develop indicators toward the future.
Flood was chosen to help develop the input from the initial surveys held over the past couple of years and with interviews he's been conducting since Celebrate Molalla with residents of the city. All of these will be used for a visioning process that establishes a clear and compelling 10 year leadership vision allowing the city to move forward with goals and action.
Flood told the Pioneer he was pleased with the progress at the meeting.
"The input was honest, smart and really good. It took us another step. The notes on friendly, [for example] questioned who is being welcomed, esthetics, entry points, key intersections and how they are welcoming," said Flood.
Using this method, Flood and co-chairs Elizabeth Klein and Leota Childress will work on a plan to help move the town forward to implement all different sectors including government, residents and visitors. "That draft will clarify values and visions so we can write a draft strategy to put into play," he said.
He then divided up the group into small groups and gave each a value to look at including: friendly community, welcoming, small town, hub, relationship with natural resources and location in the region, and gave them 20 minutes to discuss the values, what they mean and how they will lead toward a vision for the future. Flood then elaborated on what he was looking for: what improvements would they like to see, what will be happening in 10 years—will the value statement be stronger then and what developing strategies are needed to get there in 10 years.
He also explained what he calls SWAT, meaning what are the value's strengths and weaknesses and how opportunities and threats will affect the vision.
One retiree noted that there were a number of things people and/or visitors can do in the recreation corridor to encourage locals and visitors but there are no signs leading to fly fishing, hiking and other mountain activities. Molalla could be designated as a hub, in an ideal location, the retiree said. It's near to the beginning of the Willamette Valley, close to Portland and Salem. At the same time, those might be selling points, but there should be maps and signage. He also warned the state should be careful with taxes; "don't chase families out of the area with higher taxes," he said.
But that can be restated as a value, according to another. "Molalla is located in a region that offers a resilient community that passionately recognizes and builds on its location within Clackamas County while remaining essential to all of the state's resources. We can build on our transportation systems, promote businesses that already are established. If we want, we can find ways to attract and promote new businesses that can employ more people."
Yet another suggested continuing to improve public services through Public Works and finding ways to ensure we're competing with what's available.
Another noted that Molalla is a great place to raise a family, it's affordable and the schools are getting better. "From here you can get to places quickly and easily," she said. But also asked, "Why here, what makes this place unique?"
The small town feeling can be a double-edged sword, said another. "The people of Molalla can engage and embrace growth," she said. "We can welcome and engage with new community members because our quality of life will improve as we grow together."
However, she explained it could also be viewed as negative because people value the small town feeling and don't want to see it grow. Too often new people will bring about change and often change can be something some people don't want to do.
These among others, including Flood's interviews, the early surveys and what happened at the second community meeting on Dec. 8, will be folded into draft strategy and presented to City Council members at the Feb. 9 retreat.