Council Notes: Wilsonville DEI Committee pushes forward following Juneteenth event
Representatives of the city of Wilsonville's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee met with the City Council to open the work session Monday, June 20. On the heels of organizing the city's second annual Juneteenth event, the committee continued to lay out its strategic plan as representatives including committee chair Imran Haider search for a continued green light from the council.
Formed in 2020, the 13-member group has worked to identify barriers and pursue programs and policy surrounding inclusivity within the Wilsonville community. The committee has worked with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, parks and recreation, city planning, the local library and other entities to recognize challenges surrounding community engagement from both internal and external groups.
"We (want to) try to have stories of one person's view of life and their experiences rather than statistics and definitions, because I think it sticks with us and kind of illuminates things a little more," Mayor Julie Fitzgerald said.
In a similar vein to that of the recent Juneteenth event, the committee seeks to drive awareness through a lecture series, multicultural events, collaborating with businesses and other partnerships.
Haider said that, in the continued effort to increase city-wide awareness, rebranding the committee may help.
"(DEI), like everything, gets placed in a category and it gets shot out of a barrel and people are already tuning you out when you say, 'Oh, I represent the DEI committee from Wilsonville,'" Haider said. "I think there's a way that we can try to have conversations to educate people on what we really do here."
Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund for fiscal year 2024-25
As the work session portion of Monday's meeting pushed on, Wilsonville Grants and Programs Manager Kelsey Lewis and Eric Loomis, operations manager of Wilsonville's transit agency (South Metro Area Regional Transit), presented the recently developed plan for the use of money from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) for the 2024-25 fiscal year.
Proposed projects include signage updates, transit-oriented development customer service, electric charging and facilities expansions, continued service on routes 1X, 2X and 7, out-of-town medical dial-a-ride and more.
The plan will be incorporated into the list of projects for the TriMet fund, which was created as a new source of revenue for transportation projects, this coming fall before it is approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission in January 2023.
Fitzgerald mentioned that many individuals have brought up the goal of having the Route 98 express bus more accessible to Wilsonville travelers. This goes hand-in-hand with a focus on increased accessibility to and from nearby cities. She questioned whether the funding plan could help expand bus routes to low-income areas as well as outlying areas, specifically near the Frog Pond development area.
Furthermore, City Councilor Charlotte Lehan said that Sherwood, Tualatin and Wilsonville are major industrial job hubs and therefore should be easy to commute between without interfering with Portland routes and traffic.
"We need to look at those three hubs as industrial hubs because all three are also significant residential hubs, and how we're able to move people amongst those without sending them into Portland and back again," she said.
Loomis remarked that this would not be addressed in this iteration of the plan.
Council President Kristin Akervall expressed concern about how to appropriately and efficiently raise awareness of new transportation options and routes as they are rolled out, specifically when it comes to notifying city employers.
No movement on fireworks ban
Despite fireworks being banned in the Wilsonville area last year, the city has not yet implemented a ban on legal fireworks this year. City Manager Bryan Cosgrove addressed the council Monday and said that given the wet spring thus far, there was no need to crack down on legal fireworks with July 4 approaching. Illegal fireworks, however, will remain a focus throughout the coming weeks.
"I think it's really important to try to continue the gains on the illegal fireworks which we made last year," Fitzgerald said. "I think it's really important to communicate with homeowners associations to look out for it."
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