REFLECTING ON THE YEAR THAT WAS
Already one of the fastest growing cities in the metro area, the progress the City of Wilsonville made in 2018 likely means that trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
There was considerable progress in expanding residential capacity in Frog Pond and in planning for two new industrial areas and the City also increased its water capacity and planned for expanded transportation services.
But the year was about much more than growth. It was about mitigating risk, honoring history and improving services.
Here's both a look back at and an update regarding some of the most important stories of the year.
Kinder Morgan gas pipeline emergency tools
January: In a disagreement that had been years in the making, the City of Wilsonville requested that Kinder Morgan, an energy company based in Texas, add automatic shutoff valves to its liquid gas pipeline as a precautionary measure in case of a pipeline leak.
The City argued that a pipeline leak would not only affect Wilsonville, but was of regional significance because the pipeline crosses the river near Wilsonville's Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, which will provide water to neighboring communities such as Hillsboro and Beaverton due to a pipeline expansion. And if leakage from the pipeline flooded into the treatment plant or a water pipe, it could affect much of the metro region. Kinder Morgan initially balked at the request but negotiated with the City throughout 2018.
Update: The City and Kinder Morgan report that they are nearing a resolution that City Attorney Barbara Jacobson deemed to be palatable.
"I think we got everything that we asked for," Jacobson said.
Pending final approval, Kinder Morgan is expected to agree to automate shut off valves so that it can easily shut them off in case of a leak and share confidential planning with the City about procedures for responding to emergencies.
The City initially wanted Kinder Morgan to move one of its shut off valves located 6-8 miles south of Wilsonville closer to Wilsonville's water treatment plant but City engineers determined that wouldn't be necessary.
"They (Kinder Morgan) don't like to do this kind of thing because they feel like it sets a precedent but understood that because of the water treatment plant, it was important to put extra precautions here. It was a collaborative effort," Jacobson said.
Aurora Airport under scrutiny
January: It was a topsy-turvy year for plans to extend the Aurora Airport runway. First, legislators attempted to pass a bill that would have funded the extension only to see it stall at the committee stage of the legislative process. However, to the City's dismay, the Oregon Department of Aviation applied for a $37 million federal grant to fund the project later in the year. The City spoke out against the grant and even held a public hearing for all sides to voice their opinions.
November: At the hearing, various business interests associated with the airport expressed a similar tone of approval while local residents, especially Charbonneau residents who hear airplanes flying over their homes, generally expressed disapproval about the extension.
Update: The Oregon State Legislature's Emergency Board approved the grant application and, upon writing, the Federal Aviation Administration hadn't yet decided whether it would grant final approval.
Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp did not like the E-Board's decision but felt that the FAA would likely deny the application because it had released a report that did not include the Aurora Airport as an airport that would receive "priority consideration" for grant funds. Alas, the saga continues.
Introduction of girls into Boy Scouts program
January: After the Boy Scouts of America announced that for the first time in its history it would allow girls to join Cub Scout packs, Wilsonville Cub Scout Pack 199 immediately leapt at the opportunity to welcome girls.
Before the change, the sisters of male scouts could take part in Cub Scout activities but did not receive official recognition and Cubmaster David Martin felt bad having to turn girls away at recruitment events.
And though girls could always join Girl Scout troops, Martin felt that allowing girls into Cub Scouts provided convenience for busy parents and for boys and girls to enjoy scouting together.
Update: Martin said that the first year of girls' formal involvement in the program has gone fantastically.
He said nine girls are a part of the pack, up from six or seven before 2018 and that the girls are learning more than ever before and are progressing toward advancing ranks in March.
"I think they are learning more because they are more involved in the program," Martin said. "Before, they weren't required to be there, learn the material. Now they have to build a fire, have to handle a knife correctly; they have to have all the same skills that are required of any scout."
In the last year, the scouting program has gone on camping trips, ridden horses, fished, performed its annual flag raising ceremony and recently made ornaments with residents of SpringRidge senior living facility. Martin said that girls make up about 10 percent of the pack.
"That's better than I was hoping for because there (are) other youth programs available. It's going to take some time to grow those numbers, to be 50-50 with the boys," he said.
Coffee/Basalt creek Urban Renewal Districts underway
February: 2018 was an important year for Wilsonville's fledgling employment districts.
Regarding Coffee Creek, the City struggled throughout the year to attract development because it had yet to develop Garden Acres Road. To help solve this issue, the City established a specific code to expedite the development approval process. The code set design standards and allowed for the City's planning director to approve development rather than requiring approval from the Development Review Board. The code streamlined the process for developers but, in nixing DRB hearings, potentially decreased public involvement.
May: In more positive news, the City received an auspicious ruling from the Metro regional government about the central subarea of Basalt Creek. Agreeing with Wilsonville, the City ruled that the area should be designated for industrial development even though Tualatin wanted it to include residential development. However, the City, Tualatin and Metro found themselves embroiled in an appeal from a Tualatin homeowner on the grounds that Metro can't make a land use decision to resolve disputes between cities.
Update: The City applied for a $3.6 million loan from the State of Oregon to fund Garden Acres Road and are waiting to attain approval of the loan. The City also projected that development interest from the investment brokerage Prologis would help pay for the road and decided to lessen the extent of the project to decrease costs. The City expects urban renewal funding to pay for the loan and for construction to begin on Garden Acres Road this year.
Regarding Basalt Creek, the City received a favorable ruling from LUBA, which determined that Metro's ruling would hold and that the two cities could continue the planning process, in November.
"Our argument was the land use decisions were up to us (the cities) and what we did with Metro was contractual and to break a stalemate (with Tualatin) of two years we couldn't break," Jacobson said. "It would be up to the cities whether they would follow that contract when they make their land use decision or not."
However, Jacobson said she thinks the homeowner will appeal the decision again once the planning process is finished.
Water Pipeline begins journey
February: The City of Wilsonville signed off on an intergovernmental agreement with Tualatin Valley Water District and neighboring jurisdictions to build a pipeline from Wilsonville to Hillsboro. The agreement includes upgrading Wilsonville's water treatment plant and Wilsonville officials were satisfied with the agreement because the city will pay a significantly smaller share of the construction costs than other jurisdictions. And though the project includes ample construction in Wilsonville, the City will receive $17 million in prepaid rents by 2026 from the other parties. The City is deliberating a plan for using the extra funds and councilors have brought up subsidizing taxpayer water rates as an option.
Update: The timeline for the implementation of the pipe in Wilsonville has recently materialized. Willamette Water Supply indicated that the initial stage of the project will begin in early 2019 and include construction of the pipe along Kinsman Road from the east side of S.W. Arrowhead Creek near the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant and then stop a few hundred feet across Wilsonville Road; the second phase, which will start in 2019 and end in 2020, would run the pipe along S.W. Garden Acres Road from S.W. Ridder Road to S.W. Day and the third phase, scheduled from 2020 to 2022, would include construction from S.W. Boeckman Road to S.W. Ridder Road along S.W. 95th Ave. as well as along Kinsman Road between Wilsonville Road and S.W. Barbur St. Meanwhile, Wilsonville councilors have continued to discuss how to use the $17 million in prepaid rents and Knapp suggested in November that the council consider using part of it to subsidize system development charges to keep development rates from spiking.
Sports field usage under debate
April: In discussing long-range plans for parks, some Wilsonville City Council members expressed dismay about the allotment of sports fields available for community members. They also wished that the City had more access to West Linn-Wilsonville School District facilities, especially considering the City had helped fund school projects, including the Wilsonville High School turf field. In turn, the City directed staff to include negotiating with the school district for sports field usage as part of the update to its Parks Master Plan.
Update: City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said the City has not made substantial progress in formulating an agreement with the school district and that the intergovernmental agreement is not a priority at this point.
"We have a lot of other more important needs as far as developing our parks system," he said.
However, he said the school district has "not voiced opposition" to exploring ways for the City to have more access to school facilities during the summer months and in the evening during the school year.
"They have security and liability issues we'd have to work out but there's nothing that's insurmountable," Cosgrove said.
Boat dock rules undergo changes
April: After an agreement with the State Marine Board stipulating the outlawing of certain activities at the Memorial Park Boat Dock expired, the City of Wilsonville considered whether to open up the dock to fishing.
Believing that the government shouldn't impose regulations unless they are proven to be necessary, Knapp spoke out strongly in favor of removing the fishing restriction entirely. So, even though Parks and Recreations Coordinator Mike McCarthy had suggested removing restrictions from Oct. 1 to April 30 — when boating is less active but there are still fish to catch — the City voted to remove restrictions throughout the year. However, citing safety concerns, the council decided to continue to prohibit swimming and diving at the dock.
Update: Cosgrove said the unshackling of fishing restrictions hasn't changed activity at the dock much. He said a similar amount of people are fishing there as before and that there haven't been disagreements between fishers and boaters in the area that he was aware of.
"There's not a lot of usage down there in terms of fishing. Local people who fish out of there know how to get down there. It's not readily visible or noticeable unless you know how to get down there," he said.
Frog Pond West houses are being built
June: The City of Wilsonville greenlighted the first developments in its new residential district, Frog Pond West, which will mostly feature large single family homes. The first developments facilitated by West Hills Development and Pahlisch Homes are taking place to the north of Boeckman Road and the west of Stafford Road, with lots ranging from 4,000 to 12,000 square feet. The West Hills Development features particularly large lots. In part for that reason, NW Natural selected the development for its annual Street of Dreams event, where builders will develop innovative homes along a single street in the area and unveil them to the public this summer.
Though a significant portion of Wilsonville residents are worried about exacerbating traffic in the City, Mayor Knapp told the Spokesman that the additional homes will help the City match its future growth in jobs with housing stock, which could incentivize people to live and work in Wilsonville. In 2019, the City will likely approve more annexations, zoning changes and development in Frog Pond West. Relatedly, the Metro council also added two other residential areas, Frog Pond South and East, into the urban growth boundary. The expansion is projected to add 271 acres and 1,325 homes to Wilsonville over time.
SMART has big plans
July: South Metro Area Regional Transit, Wilsonville's public transportation provider, faced alarming news when TriMet told officials that the deadline for submitting projects to be considered for funding via a statewide transportation bill (House Bill 2017) was two months sooner than TriMet had initially told them. Scrambling to meet the sooner deadline and unsure if TriMet would even submit Wilsonville's plans to the Oregon Department of Transportation for final approval by the deadline, SMART formulated both an abbreviated and a more expansive plan depending on if TriMet would meet the deadline or not.
The plan, which was an altered version of the City's Transit Master Plan project list, included shorter term projects like increasing connectivity with TriMet through Tigard and Tualatin and additional weekend and midday services.
The longer term plan included those projects and added a fareless system, a mixed use facility at the SMART central station and services to Oregon City and Hillsboro to the list.
Update: To SMART Transit Director Dwight Brashear's relief, TriMet submitted a slightly altered list of SMART projects to the Oregon Transportation Commission on time. And the OTC will reveal recipients of the grant in April.
Wilsonville's projects that could receive grant money include three electric buses and six compressed natural gas (cng) buses, 1 cng trolley and charging infrastructure, service enhancements for its route to Tualatin, enhancements to its route to Salem, adding a route to Woodburn, the development of routes in the nascent Coffee Creek and Basalt Creek industrial areas and the burgeoning Frog Pond residential area and the purchase of a cng bus for its route to Tualatin.
"We had a lot of input from the public on, when the west train is not running, there's no way for them (riders) to get to the Tualatin Transit Center," Brashear said about the focus on the route to Tualatin. "Working with TriMet, one of the tenets of HB-17 was inner-community connectivity. Legislators wanted us to work together to eliminate service gaps and we saw this as an opportunity to close service gaps."
Brashear would also like to see SMART's long-term plan of adding a mixed-use facility with low income housing be funded through Metro's recently approved affordable housing bond and that a law to allow buses to operate on the shoulder of highways could jumpstart the plan to add a route to Portland.
Historical Society archive project kicks off
August: The Wilsonville-Boones Ferry Historical Society embarked on an ambitious project — turning its cluttered array of archival material in the Wilsonville Public Library attic into an organized and catalogued assortment that could eventually become an impressive display in a public space. Funded by a Metro Community Enhancement grant, the City enlisted Creston Smith with the task and the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs member took account of all of the materials, which included old photographs of the City, products from a store owned by the Aden family, and items from famous author Walt Morey, and organized them into lists and boxes. Lehan hoped the City would eventually agree to display the archives into the old Tauchman House building in Boones Ferry Park and make the house the Society's official home.
Update: Now that Smith has inventoried the collection and placed them into organized boxes, Historical Society President Steve Van Wechel said the Society is back to the grant-writing process. It is going to apply for a grant to the Clackamas County Arts Alliance and again to Metro's Community Enhancement fund to include all of the archival item lists into an excel spreadsheet and purchase a computer database program to log the items. The Society also wants to utilize a Wilsonville photography club to take photos of each archival item so that the database could include a photo to go along with the name of each item. The Society then needs to update the VHS tapes and DVDs that are in the archives into digital versions.
The process is far from finished.
"We have a couple years ahead of us," Van Wechel said.
Elections held for City Council
November: Incumbent Charlotte Lehan and candidate Ben West won a tight race for two open Wilsonville City Council spots during the November election while candidates David Davis and John Budiao fell
short. West will replace Council President Scott Starr on the council in January.