Council addresses funding for transportation, bond
Attendance was sparse at the West Linn City Council's fourth quarter town hall meeting Dec. 7 at the West Linn Police Station, but the council still led a cordial and detailed conversation covering a number of topics over the course of more than two hours.
Transportation was a major theme of the discussion, and later in the evening talks shifted to a potential renewal of a General Obligation (GO) bond to fund future improvement projects across the city.
The road(s) ahead
Transportation talks, of course, largely centered on major roads like Interstate 205 and Highway 43. While those roads are managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), West Linn plans to work with the state agency as it enters the early stages of a proposed widening project on I-205, and the City itself has taken a lead role in fundraising for improvements on Highway 43.
In the midst of those big picture projects, the council also hopes to push for smaller changes that might alleviate the city's traffic problems.
"One of the things we're doing that we can focus on is to address Willamette Falls Drive as a through corridor for drivers," Mayor Russ Axelrod said. "That's something we very much are interested in, how we might make that less attractive."
City Councilor Bob Martin mentioned another possibility related to the Arch Bridge between West Linn and Oregon City.
"One idea that's been talked about is closing the Arch Bridge to car traffic, just making it pedestrian, bicycle, maybe trolley," Martin said. That would free up the area we want to develop over there."
Martin said he also hoped to one day see a trolley system that would run from West Linn's waterfront area through Lake Oswego and on to Portland.
"Once we have (the waterfront) developed, it will be such a big attraction, and the idea of taking the trolley out to the falls and the restaurants and all of that, it's going to be a huge draw," Martin said.
One resident said transportation in West Linn is hindered by its limited bus service, and that it "seems outrageous" to not have bus service to City Hall or the Adult Community Center.
"That's the thing with West Linn — putting aside these bigger ideas, because it takes a lot of money to put in train tracks ... how do we get our people out of their cars down to the bus lines, or down to their local businesses?" City Councilor Teri Cummings said. "Would people use it if we had a local system?"
Time to GO?
As the City prepares to conduct a survey related to a potential bond renewal in May 2018 — which as currently proposed would retain the 42 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value that residents currently pay — talks turned to that initiative as the meeting drew nearer to its close.
One resident, Jules Walters, said she and her family might support an even higher figure than 42 cents per $1,000 if it would lead to more significant improvements across the city.
"The more you invest to the city, the more value you bring to your home and your neighborhood, and for some people that's a major part of their wealth," Walters said.
Other attendees were open-minded, but cited some hesitance about even continuing at the same rate because of how their financial situations changed upon retirement.
Martin added that this was what he heard from many residents while campaigning for council.
"People's attitude towards more debt and increased taxes is still not a positive thing," he said. "Very few people want to do that."
The giving season
Serving as a backdrop to the meeting was a collection of more than 250 items donated by all 11 of the city's neighborhood associations as part of the West Linn Police Department's Clackamas Women's Services Toys and Toiletries Drive, which ended earlier that evening.
The items were delivered Monday, and the City said two neighborhood associations — Savanna Oaks and Rosemont Summit — tied for the most items donated.