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Transit boundaries, public works facility among Wilsonville City Council's priorities

PMG FILE PHOTO - The City of Wilsonville wants to create a plan for building a new Public Works facility on Boberg Road.

Bringing some of Wilsonville's new neighborhoods into its transit district will be a top priority for its City Council in 2019 and 2020, despite the likelihood that persuading TriMet to cede those areas is expected to be difficult.

Though they have yet to be finalized, the Wilsonville City Council recently determined what its priorities likely will be for the upcoming two years.

In the goal-setting session held April 19-20, the City agreed on objectives and fit them into three categories: top priorities, high priorities and other priorities.

"I would view it as a filtering system in terms of staff priority. We don't always achieve every goal we adopt, but those that Council has identified as a top or high priority will receive the most attention by staff over the next two years," Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said in an email.

The two highest priority projects decided at the session included obtaining a boundary adjustment so that Wilsonville's transit provider, South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART), aligns with city limits and developing a plan for a new Public Works maintenance facility.

"I think that our goals in years past and in this current cycle, a lot of times they focus around infrastructure and services for the community and those are two big umbrellas," said Council President Kristin Akervall. "Those fit within those concepts. From my perspective, that's where we will spend a lot of our time looking."

Wilsonville Transit Director Dwight Brashear said Wilsonville's future industrial areas, Coffee Creek and Basalt Creek, as well as Frog Pond neighborhoods are not within SMART's jurisdictional purview. Instead, even though SMART plans to provide services to those areas, TriMet collects the transit tax revenue (which comes from a payroll tax to local businesses) in those areas. Also, TriMet currently collects transit revenue from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

Brashear said TriMet has declined requests to cede the two industrial areas to SMART.

"In the last meeting I had with TriMet, a little less than a year ago, the immediate response was 'Dwight, we have no issue with Wilsonville taking over Frog Pond. We will cede that area to you' because they know there's no revenue out of it. Coffee Creek and Basalt Creek is a different matter," Brashear said.

But with a strong directive from the City Council to resolve this issue, Brashear will continue to push TriMet to give SMART taxing jurisdiction over Wilsonville's burgeoning districts.

"It may take myself and the mayor and the city manager and the city attorney to sit down with their executive team and talk this matter out," Brashear said. "The more long-term solution is to look at legislation or possibly get the courts involved. We certainly would like to solve this issue without having to go that route."

At the goal-setting session, Public Works Director Delora Kerber said that public works staffers are dispersed across multiple buildings, and the department would benefit from being housed in a single facility. It would also provide the Wilsonville police more breathing room as some of the public works staff and police currently occupy the same building.

The City purchased a vacant property on Southwest Boberg Road years ago that would be used for the new facility. But if the goal is finalized, the City will likely develop a plan for the development of the new building.

"They're (public works) constrained in so many different ways," said Wilsonville Planning Director Chris Neamtzu. "This is going to allow them to move forward as a 21st century operation."

Top priorities included creating a staff position for promoting tourism and arts and culture, implementing a plan for building the bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-5, creating a Basalt Creek Master Plan, and exploring residential codes to accommodate electric vehicle stations.

With the help of the Clackamas County Arts Alliance, the City recently completed a study to determine how best to improve arts and culture in Wilsonville, which could include finding a space for local arts groups to hold performances and creating an arts and culture commission. Meanwhile, the City's tourism committee recently updated Wilsonville's tourism website and is finding ways to make Wilsonville a more attractive tourist destination.

The staff position would work with arts and tourism groups to further these efforts.

"We need a tourism and arts and culture person, a new position and half-position because those two things do cross paths a lot," said Wilsonville City Councilor Charlotte Lehan at the goal-setting session.

The City recently passed a concept plan for the Basalt Creek area, which the City projects would eventually add 4,500 jobs to the Wilsonville community. Now, the Council will need to approve a master plan for the area, which would set a blueprint for development.

Wilsonville Planning Director Chris Neamtzu said deciding whether to apply a form-based code, which is used in Coffee Creek to streamline development applications, to the area and fine-tuning the new craft industrial zone would be key decisions in the master planning process.

Wilsonville is in the process of finalizing the purchase of a 6,700-square-foot site that would serve as the landing of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across I-5 and into Town Center. Before determining funding sources, the City needs to complete design work for the project.

"The City obtained a large grant (from the Metro regional government) to do the design, figure out how the bridge lands, expanding Boones Ferry Road, making sure the bridge comes down to grade, and figuring out how it connects to the (landing) site in Town Center," Neamtzu said.

As for researching new electric vehicle-related residential codes, Wilsonville Building Official Dan Carlson said the state's building code currently does not mandate electric vehicle charging stations in homes but that Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order in 2017 that mandates that parking structures built after 2022 would need to accommodate electric vehicles.

"We would have to evaluate locally whether we would adopt an amendment versus what might be coming already from the state building codes division," Carlson said.

Other priorities that were addressed at the meeting include advocating for more travel options on the I-5 corridor, advocating for the Boone Bridge Facility Plan, which would create a southbound auxiliary lane on I-5 and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge, exploring mayor and council compensation, reducing, monitoring and reporting on the use of toxins used on public facilities, establishing a parking strategy and policies to reduce conflict, among others.

"I'm always really grateful for this process," Akervall said. "I wish we could do it more often because I think it's so productive to get everyone in a room and get more expanded time to talk through different ideas, and it's a more relaxed setting than our more formal meetings."

Akervall also viewed the goal-setting session as a way to get to know her fellow councilors better and was struck by the differing life experiences and perspectives on the council and the commonality of sharing a commitment with the Wilsonville community.

"I feel grateful that we do have different perspectives on council, and I think that makes us a more well-rounded group and better able to represent our community," she said.

The Wilsonville City Council will vote to approve the goals at an upcoming meeting.

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