Tualatin Mayor Bubenik delivers first state-of-the-city speech, traffic main topic
The City of Tualatin has achieved numerous milestones over the last year including updating its parks master plan and the passage of a traffic safety bond measure Mayor Frank Bubenik told those gathered Wednesday for his first state-of-the-city address.
Bubenik delivered his remarks about the city's accomplishments over the last year using a "Mid-Day Show" theme to a packed luncheon audience at Marquis Tualatin Assisted Living's Community Center.
Former Portland television news anchor Eric Schmidt served as moderator/host of the event, peppering Bubenik and members of the Tualatin City Council with questions about the city in a talk show format.
"The biggest thing people love about Tualatin is Tualatin itself," said Bubenik. "The one thing people say they hate about Tualatin is the traffic."
Bubenik told Schmidt, who now works in community affairs for Tualatin Valley Community TV, that the city was pretty busy last year, updating both a city development code and a city parks master plan, the latter of which was last updated 30 years ago.
And he focused heavily on what is always a hot topic in Tualatin -- traffic.
In fact, he told those gathered that the passage of a $20 million traffic safety bond last May was a "biggie" achievement of the previous year with projects for projects that will be completed over the next three to five years.
Among the highlights of the bond will be funding to fix a long-time concern for Tualatin drivers -- fixing Garden Corner Curves. That project will improve problems along the roadway that includes 105th Avenue, Blake Street and 108th Avenue and is designed to connect the Ibach and Midwest neighborhoods.
Bubenik also said another aspect of the bond project that should help out traffic is the future addition of another lane eastbound along Tualatin-Sherwood Road between Martinazzi Avenue and the I-5 interchange. Removing a center median and adding another lane could cut a minute off motorists' time in making their way to the freeway, he said.
Also on a list of traffic improvements is adding illuminated traffic speed devices around the city to slow down traffic in problem areas. One has already has been added to Martinazzi Avenue.
"Those machines you see flashing actually work," said Bubenik, whose day job is running a small information technology firm.
Taking a poke at photo red-light cameras moderator Schmidt said, "When in Beaverton and you go through those red-light cameras -- smile."Bubenik also praised the completion of the 124th Avenue extension – a project headed up by Washington County – as a way to reduce truck traffic along Tualatin-Sherwood Road. The roadway, which opened at the beginning of the year, takes motorists from Tualatin-Sherwood Road and feeds them into Basalt Creek Parkway and takes then to Graham's Ferry Road.
Also interviewed during Wednesday's "talk show" were Tualatin City Council members including:
• Paul Morrison, who spoke about making Tualatin into a tourism destination, noting that the annual Pumpkin Regatta attracts crowds nationally.
"Tualatin is a great place to own a business," said Morrison. "Visit Tualatin, stay, spend."
He also pointed out that the council successfully lobbied TriMet after the transit agency had earmarked the Tualatin Village Inn restaurant for possible relocation once the new Southwest Corridor light rail is installed, something unlikely to happen at this point.
• Maria Reyes, who praised the city's diversity task force for moving its efforts in making Tualatin a more diverse community. One of the group's efforts is finding ways to include other cultures in arts-related activities as well as the park plans. She said she wants everyone in the city to feel comfortable in the city.
"The goal is we're all together," she said. "I think for me, as a woman of color, we all (need to) see each other as one, and vice versa."
• Robert Kellogg, who moved into the city in 2011, said he was encouraged to join a Citizen Involvement Organization, more commonly referred to as a CIO that focuses on issues in specific neighborhoods, something he found helpful. He said even back then there was concern about fixing Garden Curves Corner.
"That constriction project…was born out the CIOs," he pointed out.
Kellogg also talked about the importance of Tualatin's CERT program and its leadership in helping prepare for what's the large earthquake many refer to as "The Big One."
"We all know this is earthquake country," he said. "We're really going to be on our own (when it happens)."
• Nancy Grimes, spoke about the city's need for affordable housing especially in light of rising costs of housing in the area.
"We are working on a housing needs analysis and I don't have a crystal ball but I think it's going to tell us we need affordable housing."
• Bridget Brooks, said she's happy that the council has made the environment a top priority. She said the city is focusing on air quality and working on ways to address city water emergencies – everything from those caused by natural disasters to drought.
Talking about the recently adopted parks and recreation master plan, Brooks said one of the top priorities of the guiding document is to address issues of sustainability. She noted that Tualatin has long had a Tree City USA designation and that city streetlights have been changed out to include energy-saving LED lights.
Finally, Mayor Bubenik praised volunteers throughout the city, saying they contributed 26,000 hours of volunteer time last year, something that would require 90 staff members.
At the end of his state-of-the-city talk, Bubenik thanked all those who took the time to for his annual mayor's address, which attracted everyone from local mayors and county officials to business people and regular residents.
"I'm overwhelmed with the showing of folks today," he said.
Quick state-of-city stats:
• Current city population is 27,000.
• Tualatin has one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of Washington County.
• Mayor's email inbox has gone for a handful of messages to several hundred each day.