Wilsonville government declares state of emergency, provides wildfire update
Wilsonville City Council declared its second state of emergency of the year during a meeting Thursday, Sept. 10 — this time so that it can have the authority to quickly procure resources in response to dangerous wildfires that have engulfed large swaths of the region.
According to City Attorney Barbara Jacobson, the state of emergency will allow the city to easily share resources with other entities, enact curfews, increase policing power and ask for federal reimbursement for money spent. The declaration will go until Oct. 15.
"Hopefully it will be resolved well before then," Jacobson said.
Also during the meeting, the council discussed local wildfire responses.
Marton Montalvo, the city's public works operations manager, said city facilities are closed through Friday. The city will monitor the situation over the weekend before making a decision for next week, and only essential staff are asked to stay on-duty currently. He also said the city has spoken with homeowners association presidents, who said they're ready in case an evacuation order in Wilsonville is enacted.
As of Friday morning most of Wilsonville was under Level 1 of evacuation protocols, meaning residents should be ready for a potential evacuation. Cosgrove implored residents and business community members to make sure they are prepared to depart at a moment's notice.
If residents are ordered to evacuate, police will be instructed to drive through the city alerting people, and community members also will receive a public alert. In the meantime, Montalvo said public works and parks and recreation staff had moved emergency equipment and traffic control devices throughout the city so that they're readily available.
Ideally, Montalvo advised that residents stay with family and friends in case of an evacuation order and to go to areas that aren't as impacted by the fires. He also said people should visit TripCheck.com to identify available routes.
Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West raised concerns about residents of assisted living facilities, and Montalvo clarified that such facilities have established emergency agreements with other entities that could provide transportation and house displaced residents.
However, he added: "If we get a phone call from a facility that says 'we need assistance,' the city will do whatever it can in the context of the situation to assist."
Councilor Charlotte Lehan has noticed more residents staying in RVs on the side of the road this week and City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said the city could allow those people to stay at public facilities like Wilsonville City Hall and the Wilsonville Transit Center temporarily. He added: "We will use a soft glove on complaints we get of people sleeping in vehicles."
Montalvo also expressed confidence that the city's water system would be able to handle any increased load for fire suppression and said the treatment plant is running normally.
Finally, councilors expressed appreciation for city staff and empathy for the Wilsonville community and members of other affected communities who are braving fire effects.
"I know that the city manager and all of our departments have been on top of this situation, and I'm very pleased to be a part of a city that follows these issues so closely and anticipates things ahead of time," Lehan said. "I'm very proud of our city, and I hope we come through this disaster on the other side and are able to help our neighboring communities."
West added: "I want to encourage everyone to just take care of each other. When it comes down to it, we are all neighbors and all love our community. This time is really hard for everybody."
During the same meeting, the city extended its state of emergency for COVID-19 response until Nov. 3 and approved a first reading of annexation and zone map amendment resolutions to allow for the development of a 5.85-acre logistics center proposed by Panattoni Development Co. at the Coffee Creek Industrial Area in unincorporated Washington County. The facility is designed to accommodate one or two tenants and have manufacturing and office space.
Development in Coffee Creek has stalled over the past couple years and city staff have said that public infrastructure needed to be developed before the private sector would invest in the area. Previously, the city took out a loan to finance the development of Garden Acres Road in Coffee Creek.
"We're very excited to be the first project moving forward to construction on Coffee Creek and we're eager to be the guinea pig for the process ahead," applicant representative Lee Leighton said at the meeting.
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