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Wilsonville City Council candidates share their thoughts on local issues, challenges

SPOKESMAN: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the city in the next four years?

DAVIS: The 2018 Community Survey shows how much Wilsonville residents enjoy living here with a 94 percent quality of life rating. But even so, we have room for improvement. As our community and the region grows we must work diligently to address the issue of traffic congestion — here and across the metro region. The southwest I-5 corridor is now at a critical point. In partnership with Clackamas County, Metro, ODOT, and the state and federal legislature we must prioritize infrastructure that makes the region run more smoothly every day, while protecting our ability to function during earthquakes or other natural disasters. 

LEHAN: Wilsonville continues to be a popular destination for residents and businesses, which means one of our biggest challenges is managing growth — industrial, commercial, and residential. But no matter how well we plan for growth within Wilsonville, the capacity limitations of Interstate 5 impacts everything we do. We need to build consensus at the regional, state, and federal levels to address these constraints, especially at the Boone Bridge. Another challenge will be managing the disruption of the Big Pipe project sending water to Hillsboro. We need to make sure that the city and its ratepayers are compensated for these temporary disruptions.

WEST: Traffic has the most significant impact on livability in Wilsonville. We can all relate to the frustration of being trapped in the Fred Meyer parking lot or the outrage of being immobilized on Wilsonville Road. The I-5 drive south through Wilsonville is arguably the worst commute in the state. Much of the solution is dependent on working with legislators and ODOT to make I-5 improvements and the Boones Bridge lane expansion a top priority. However, how we grow as a city also contributes to the traffic that holds our city hostage; we must curb high-density growth.

BUDIAO: The biggest challenge for Wilsonville is managing traffic to accommodate that growth.  City representatives are being pressured by Metro to increase housing density to meet Metro's master plan. We understand residents want to live in our great city with our excellent schools and access to the freeway. But, previous city hall planners, managers, mayors, and various city council-members have not done enough to manage traffic to accommodate that growth. We need state/federal money to solve the Boones Bridge problem, and I will take on this issue by asking the tough questions of Metro, ODOT, and our state representatives.

SPOKESMAN:ODOT doesn't think the Boone Bridge capacity can be increased in the next decade, possibly two. What can be done to mitigate the traffic snarls caused by I-5 in Wilsonville?

BUDIAO: The Boone Bridge can be adapted to expand one more lane in each direction. ODOT should listen to all those that traverse I-5 and do something about Boones Bridge NOW. A decade away can't be the best ODOT engineers and planners have to offer. Remember, this is the same ODOT that proposed a bridge and MAX to Washington State, spent millions of dollars on that study, and currently we have nothing to show for it. Since I-5 is a federal highway, we need to either change or pressure our Senators to secure funds for the bridge expansion.

DAVIS: With an eye to the future, Wilsonville can impact local traffic by expanding our SMART transportation system and increasing frequency of visits to current bus stops. Adding new destinations outside the city can provide an even more robust system to meet the daily needs of citizens traveling to and from work during rush hour. Working aggressively to implement these changes will set us up for success as the region grows. Creating additional opportunities to safely cross I-5 or the Willamette River on foot or bike will also contribute to alleviating congestion at critical intersections like Wilsonville Road and I-5.

LEHAN: Interstate 5 is our biggest asset and our biggest liability. When I-5 doesn't work, none of our local street systems work. We need to partner with ODOT to move the Southwest I-5 corridor up the priority list. In the meantime, we need to limit the through traffic into Wilsonville — the Dundee Bypass from Yamhill County, 124th Avenue from Washington County, cut-throughs from the I-205 Stafford Exit. We have increased the stacking capacity on the southbound Wilsonville Road ramp and continue to work on solutions at Boones Ferry and Wilsonville Road to keep Wilsonville Road moving even when I-5 is not.

WEST: It is unacceptable and appalling that ODOT is not making the Boone Bridge a top priority. It is essential that we continue to collaborate with ODOT and lobby state and federal legislators to provide funds for these critical improvements. We are also under siege with Metro's continuous demand for more high-density development, which has exacerbated our traffic woes. City leadership does have the ability to focus on the expansion of roads that would provide escape valves from that main thoroughfares that are chronically prone to congestion. Additionally, concentrating on and promoting mutimodal solutions may also bring some minimal relief.

SPOKESMAN:What do you say to residents who push back at development because they feel the city is becoming too congested?

BUDIAO: To those residents that push back on development because of congestion, I'm with you, I hear you, and I'm here to slow it down. Instead of dense housing, we need to focus on single family housing. Our city government has been in lock step with Metro, seeking to expand the Urban Growth Boundary. Let's slow down dense housing until we successfully tackle traffic. We didn't move here to end up with our city feeling like Portland. Let's keep the feel of Wilsonville as a great place to live and raise a family.

WEST: Residents who are pushing back are entirely justified in their consternation over development causing more traffic congestion. Approximately 58 percent of all housing in Wilsonville consists of apartments or multi-unit housing, which is the highest ratio of multi-family to single-family in the state. We need to hold down density that results in increased traffic congestions by focusing on single-family homes that offer famliies more space than a postage stamp. Metro and Portland's high-density utopia is not the right vision for Wilsonville. Slowing growth will help mitigate traffic, improve parking and not overburden our schools.

DAVIS: When I left the Air Force in 2011 I finished my college degree and shortly after, started my civilian career. Then and now, the only housing I could afford in the community I love, was an apartment — similar to many other young people in our community. When I have a family, I look forward to having a single-family home. This reflects the need for diverse housing for every stage of life. With 18,000 workers coming into our city every day we need to recognize that part of our traffic congestion stems from a lack of adequate worker housing.

LEHAN: Growth is challenging for any city, but Wilsonville has always required development to pay its own way. All new construction contributes development fees for roads, parks, water, stormwater, and sewer services to ensure that our service levels do not decline. It's one of the reasons the Citizen Survey (conducted biennially by National Research in Boulder, CO) continues to find Wilsonville scoring very high in almost every category of citizen satisfaction. The growing frustration for all of us is traffic congestion that backs up from Interstate-5. However, changing development patterns within Wilsonville will have little impact on I-5. (See above.)

SPOKESMAN: The Wilsonville City Council stands out for its high number of unanimous votes. What do you think of that?

BUDIAO: The military has a "neg-man" practice. Usually the last member in the room has a duty to shoot holes in the planning, project or mission to keep everybody on their toes. I'm not a fan of group think and do my research before making decisions. It is essential to ferret out what a majority of our citizens want and then have the courage to ask the hard questions and the commitment to act on the best information. Regarding our Council having a large number of unanimous votes, I hope each has not been afraid to be a "neg-man."

WEST: Our City Council has a high number of unanimous votes because 90 percent of the decisions have been carefully vetted and agreed upon by all. However, there has to be room for the dissenting opinion and as a City Councilor, I will not hesitate to stand up against group think and the status quo. However, I am committed to be a leader who works collaboratively and innovatively with my peers to tackle the tough issues that affect us all. There are chronic issues that continue to plague our community, and now is the time for a new and fresh perspective.

LEHAN: Most city councils have mostly unanimous votes because the majority of their work is doing the regular business of the city: approving contracts, updating codes, etc. A high-functioning city council will have even more unanimous votes because it will do the work necessary to reach consensus. That means making sure all voices are heard — councilors, boards & commissions, citizens, staff, and other stakeholders — and that everyone works collaboratively to find common ground. And when differences remain, everyone should feel free to vote their conscience and move on to the next issue.

DAVIS: The desire of most citizens is to have representatives who can discuss complex issues in a professional manner even when differences of opinions exist: listening to the merits of many points of view with the intent of coming to a consensus that best meets the needs of our community and drives progress. My time in the Air Force taught me that you must work in an intelligent and professional manner with everyone you encounter to get the mission done.  

SPOKESMAN:Would you support the City bringing forward a bond again for an aquatic center?

LEHAN: As a former competitive swimmer in both high school and college, I would love to have the chance to swim again (preferably indoors and year-round). Wilsonville did a feasibility study about 12 years ago that indicated we did not have the population to support an aquatic center at that time. In 2016 a similar study indicated that we were near the target population, but it failed at the ballot box. Pool consultants recommend a population of 25-30,000 in order to bring the per/household costs down and I would certainly support another try at that point.

BUDIAO: No, I would not support the City bringing forward another bond for an aquatic center. Oregon City pool loses money, North Clackamas Aquatic Park (pool side) is losing money, Wings and Waves is losing money, YMCA loses money on their pool. For these reasons I'd say no. I don't support our citizens spending precious tax money on a known bad investment.  All that being said, I'd like our high school to have a local place to train. I would not be opposed to an outside company coming in and building pool facilities if the plan was financially stable.

WEST: I support voters who overwhelmingly voted down the aquatic center. We have evidence from surrounding municipalities that the vast majority of pools struggle to stay economically viable. I don't advocate going into massive debt to finance a pool. Furthermore, as a child who spent time at a city pool and as a former lifeguard and swimmer, I do understand the benefits a pool would bring to our high school swim team, young children and seniors. I want a pool, but the solution might be in partnering with the private sector to invest in an aquatic center without burdening taxpayers.

DAVIS: During my time on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board I participated in many community discussions regarding the proposed aquatic center. I believed the pool design and indoor features would have benefited our community year-round. However, I respect the ballot results that rejected the center. In the future if citizens again voice substantial interest in such a project I would certainly support placing it on the ballot for another vote. 

SPOKESMAN:What do you think of the potential densification of the French Prairie

area and its impact on Wilsonville?

DAVIS: The biggest challenge of any urban development in French Prairie is the impact on I-5 and the Boone Bridge. That includes expanding the Aurora Airport to serve more and larger jet aircraft. As a U.S. Air Force Logistics manager, I know that moving goods and people by air requires more than airplanes. It requires trucks, vehicles, roads and bridges, as well as servicing equipment, personnel, and supporting infrastructure. Industrial development — or any urbanization south of the river — would be foolhardy with the Boone Bridge already at capacity.

BUDIAO: No, I am not in favor of densification of the French Prairie area, nor any area surrounding us. Our Council has spent a lot of our tax dollars in Salem strongly opposing the airport runway extension. I've heard so many dubious stories about how bad this would be for Charbonneau, including the ridiculous argument that the extension would bring in cargo planes. Supporting the extension seems reasonable for safety and no one has convinced me that it would increase traffic beyond what is here now, nor would it open up the whole area to development.

WEST: French Prairie is the crown jewel of Oregon's farmlands and is the birthplace of our state. As a fifth-generation Oregonian, I am committed to protecting the lands that make our state special. French Prairie is designated as a rural reserve for the next 50 years, which legally protects it from development. I do support slowing growth and density. Presently, my immediate concern is with the densification of Wilsonville. We are adding residents faster than our infrastructure can absorb. The majority of the city's leadership is underestimating the effect this growth is having on our infrastructure and traffic.

LEHAN: See #1 and #2 above if densification means more urban development south of the Willamette River. The Boone Bridge is over capacity now. Even with the addition of an auxiliary south-bound lane, the Interstate cannot be expected to handle local traffic across the river. Imagine Portland with only its freeway bridges (the Fremont and the Marquam) or even Oregon City/West Linn with only the Abernethy. French Prairie has some of the finest and most productive farmland in the world and it simply cannot support further urbanization - residential, commercial, or industrial - without an additional non-freeway vehicle bridge over the Willamette.

SPOKESMAN:There is a lot of debate about the use of the river through Wilsonville, specifically the impact of motorized water sports. What limits, if any, should there be on

the recreational use of the river?

DAVIS: As a member of Wilsonville's Parks and Recreation Board I have been involved in a two-year process to update our Parks Master Plan. One of the requests we heard most often was for more access to the Willamette River. That includes active water sports as well as quieter activities on the water and on the shore. We need to find ways to allow everyone to enjoy this community treasure without impinging on the health and safety of the river or other users. As we get more information I would support reasonable limits as needed.

BUDIAO: I recently canoed and kayaked the Willamette River from Donald to Wilsonville. The river gets its fair share of activities.  Unfortunately, there will always be those individuals that ignore the "no wake" zones, speed limit areas, and common boating courtesies. The river should be a safe place for all water sports along its Wilsonville length. The boating community needs to police its own and call out violators that make everybody look bad. Wilsonville could use a swim area on the river and I would be willing to look at other ideas that are financially sound and serve our citizens.

WEST: The Willamette River is an untapped resource, and I support more recreational opportunities on our riverfront. However, as a nurse, I believe safety has to be our first priority. Most problems have been caused by boaters ignoring rules and/or being inconsiderate of those in smaller craft and those who live along the river. As new river crafts are introduced, rules need to be put in place. We need to do a better job of rules enforcement and offer training. Perhaps we could require classes on boating rules and regulations before a license can be issued or renewed.

SPOKESMAN: Many neighbors in Old Town have resisted the development of Boones Ferry Park and a potential pedestrian bridge there, projects the City has supported. What is your stand on those projects?

LEHAN: Boones Ferry Park is Wilsonville's second oldest city park and the location of our first city hall. With the Tauchmann House, it has always had a rather quaint, old-time feel to it and I support that going forward. It is not appropriate for the active sports fields' level of activity that we have at Memorial Park. The acquisition of adjacent riverfront property will give citizens more access to the river that they love. I have always opposed the establishment of a vehicle bridge at Boones Ferry but a bike/pedestrian bridge could support the slower paced, back-in-time feel of the area.

BUDIAO: A pedestrian bridge across the Willamette is not wanted by a majority of Wilsonville citizens. I'm with the neighbors of Old Town, against it. Who will pay for it? Who will maintain it (graffiti and trash)? Who will patrol it for safety (daily)? The area behind the apartments and Courtside homes to Meadows Loop is never policed and is known to be a free reign area for drug dealing. Do we really want a Springwater Corridor in Wilsonville for the homeless people?  Boones Ferry Park is a nice, quiet place to visit and I'd like to keep it that way.

DAVIS: Our city held several public input events at Boones Ferry Park to hear what citizens would like done to this important park in old town. As a Parks and Recreation Board member I heard from residents at those events that they welcomed quality of life improvements while maintaining many of the existing elements of the park that contribute to the old town feeling. I have supported the pedestrian bridge because it offers a non-vehicle option for people to cross the river, providing yet another way to deal with the traffic congestion our city suffers from daily.

WEST: The pedestrian bridge is a Portland/Metro vision with an estimated price tag ballooning to an astounding $30 million dollars. During peak traffic hours Old Town residents are imprisoned in their neighborhoods with no escape route. Our single dead-end road through Old Town cannot support more congestion. The pedestrian bridge is the wrong priority. City Council and the Mayor should stop promoting Metro's pet projects and increase efforts to lobby our state and federal legislators to provide funding for adding lanes and expanding the Boones Bridge. I support improving the Boones Park and river access, but not the bridge to nowhere.

— The Spokesman

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