Council notes: Wilsonville considers federal funding allocation, hears about storm impact to street trees
The Wilsonville City Council breezed through a busy slate of items ranging from allocation of federal funding to the approval of longstanding housing and Town Center redevelopment plans during its meeting Monday, Oct. 4.
Here are some of the most notable decisions and conversations that took place.
How will the city spend federal funding?
During the meeting, the council discussed how it would spend the $5.4 million it is receiving as part of the American Rescue Plan Act passed by the federal government in March.
The council will come to a decision in a future meeting, but many ideas were brought up Monday.
Some of the main ones included hiring an outreach coordinator or workforce development staffer to support the business community, funding affordable housing initiatives, expanding broadband access and adding a staff person who could assist the police with response to mental health calls.
Councilor Joann Linville expressed enthusiasm about both the mental health and workforce development ideas.
"I think mental health services is an excellent idea and … think this would be helpful to our law enforcement and our city staff," she said, later adding that the workforce development positions could help the city bring more livable-wage jobs to town.
For her part, Council President Kristin Akervall suggested adding support for child care services to the list of possible projects.
"That's something that I think has become a topic during the pandemic, but was certainly an issue for many people before the pandemic and has only become more intense over the last several months," she said.
Councilor Ben West felt the city could invest in a facility that would serve as a resource or shelter for the houseless and those in need, as well as a down payment assistance program to make it easier to attain homeownership.
Council Charlotte Lehan, meanwhile, expressed general approval of the list of ideas staff brought to the council.
"I think these are excellent goals, excellent categories. And we can tailor them more specifically to council goals we have or that have come up. I think it looks very good," she said.
The council will discuss this issue again at a later date.
Street tree inventory released
After spending the last few months assessing the damage to Wilsonville's tree canopy from the late-winter ice storm, city interns issued their report to City Council Monday. They found that since the previous tree inventory had been conducted in 2018, street trees declined by a total of 674 despite the fact that more than 1,800 trees had been planted during that time — though they cannot specifically identify which trees fell due to the storm or other factors.
Trees that were especially impacted included cherry plums, which have a relatively short lifespan of 20 years and which the city removed from its approved street tree list years ago, as well as paper and silver birch, which have infestation issues. The Japanese zelkova species represented the highest number of damaged trees in large part due to its prevalence in the city. Planning Manager Daniel Pauly said the city would need to dive more into the data to determine how to manage that tree type moving forward. He also said the preponderance of the zelkova is likely due to availability and developer preference, and that the city has placed more of an emphasis on tree diversity in recent years.
"It seems like a good strategy to have different sorts of trees, so if there is an issue with a particular kind of tree, we don't find ourselves with a large deficit in one area," Akervall said.
Overall, however, the vast majority (22,888) of the city's 25,934 street trees were not damaged by the storm. Around 12% were either damaged and needed removal, damaged and may need removal or already removed. The council expressed a preference for releasing the report publicly as it was only accessible internally.
The city also renewed its contract with the Leo Company for consulting services, agreeing to pay $5,250 a month for the next three years starting Oct. 18.
Lobbyist Greg Leo has worked with the city for over 20 years, advocating for projects as far back as the siting of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility at its current location and as recent as the push to garner funding to replace the I-5 Boone Bridge. Leo and Public Affairs Director Mark Ottenad handle the city's lobbying efforts at the state Legislature and other venues. For his government affairs work, Leo's compensation was increased by 5%. The contract also includes three emergency preparedness training sessions at a rate of $500 per session. Leo has certification as a Federal Emergency Management Administration Community Emergency Response Team trainer.
"This role has also expanded significantly over the last few years as the City continues to grow. Political knowledge and personal relationships with other lobbyists have become increasingly important in order for the City to provide excellent representation to its citizens," the city's staff report read.
Middle housing, Town Center plans pass first reading
The council also approved the first readings of plans to comply with statewide housing laws to allow more middle housing in town and identify the streetscape for Town Center redevelopment. The housing plan essentially will mean that housing types such as duplexes, triplexes and cottage clusters are allowed to be built on land currently zoned for single-family use. The streetscape plan establishes design standards for things like sidewalks, trees, lighting and crosswalks. For more information on either of these projects, visit ci.wilsonville.or.us/.
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