SMART develops rules for the road
As SMART Director Dwight Brashear told officials at the Sept. 7 Wilsonville City Council work session, a disabled man called him nine months ago complaining that he was forced to stand during a SMART bus ride while able-bodied people sat comfortably.
He then asked Brashear if Wilsonville's code prohibited such behavior. After cursory research, Brashear realized that not only did such a rule not exist but rules governing behavior on SMART buses were entirely absent.
"This is the first place I've worked that the transit property didn't have rules," Brashear said. "We all need rules. Everybody in this room is governed by some expectation that we will behave a certain way."
So, at the work session, SMART brought a proposed set of bus rules to city council. The meeting was an informational session and a public hearing for the proposal will take place Sept. 17.
Some proposed rules include: elderly and disabled priority seating, prohibiting food or beverages with open containers, animals unless they're service or police dogs or in an enclosed carrier, littering and excessive noise. It also includes safety guidelines like disallowing putting hands or feet out the window when the bus is moving or attaching oneself to an exterior part of the vehicle.
"This is really a bill of rights for the riders," Brashear said. "We believe that as a rider you have a right to expect that you can ride with confidence, that you're going to get to your destination safely, the environment is going to be smoke free — which includes vaping — we're going to keep the aisles free of hazards so you don't fall. A very peaceful environment is what we're trying to create."
The proposal would call for a municipal court judge to decide the cost of violations and fines wouldn't exceed $250. SMART is also proposing a 60-day moratorium before the rules kick in so staff can perform community outreach and advertising.
Brashear said when a rule is broken, bus drivers would call a supervisor to try to diffuse the situation and, if unresolved, the supervisor would call the police.
"We want to make sure (drivers know) we aren't looking for them to play a police officer at all," Brashear said.
Brashear said bus drivers have noticed an uptick in unruly bus behavior as SMART has expanded its services but that the problem isn't severe.
"If you talk to certain drivers they're probably seeing an increase and as we strive to connect to more communities, which is what we're trying to do, we will probably see an uptick in that," he said.
Parks plan passes first hurdle
The City of Wilsonville also passed the first reading of its Comprehensive Parks Master Plan, which creates a list of park-related goals and projects the City would like to complete in the foreseeable future, at the council meeting.
Plan objectives include the addition of turf fields, a feasibility study for the potential addition of more sports tournaments, increased access to the Willamette River, trailway connectivity and the negotiation of a joint-use agreement with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.
In negotiations with the school district, the City plans to advocate for greater access to school fields for non-school related activities, particularly on weekends and during the summer. Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp and other councilors believe the City deserves to reap some of the benefits from its investments in school infrastructure.
"We've had a history of a very strong working relationship with the school district but it has felt kind of one-sided as to these facilities that public dollars, especially through urban renewal, have been invested in facilities and relatively little public use has flowed from those over quite a long period of time," Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp said.
Council President Scott Starr advocated for utilizing the private sector to develop turf fields.
"I think there's a fair amount we could do with the private sector to joint venture on some things with turf fields or maybe some other things built too," he said.
The plan also calls for mirroring the school district's pest management policy, which would call for the use of some pesticides. The group Non Toxic Wilsonville advocated for the City and school district to instead use only organic materials.
"They (school district officials) met with us ... and talked about what they do and they were right in line with us. They were on board with the same thing we were on," Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Director Mike McCarty said about talks with the school district about pest management.
The City also plans to work with Oregon Parks and Recreation to develop and provide public access for the 15-acre Willamette Meridian site, which is to the east of the City and only accessible via the Willamette River.
The City hasn't mapped out how it will fund any projects within the plan but potential funding mechanisms include the general fund, system development charges and a general obligation bond.
"The reality is parks are general fund and there's no magic money out there for us," Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said. "You can do so much with SDCs, you can do so much with grants but the reality is if you really want to be aggressive and you really want to do something signifi-
cant you're looking at a GO bond."
Knapp said Wilsonville's position at the edge of Metro's urban growth boundary and interaction with the Willamette Valley and agricultural areas gives it a unique element and that parks add to this atmosphere.
"I think this is part of the ethos in the Wilsonville community that people value very significantly. That leads me to think that we need to prioritize our plans for our natural areas as embodied in our parks plan," he said. "These are important areas to the people in our community."