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08/11/2014 City Council Meeting

The Aug. 11 regular city council meeting was off to a festive start with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new police station. After the ceremony, the city council convened in the police station community room.

The meeting started with a presentation from Greg Fitzgerald with Clackamas Community College who spoke about the college’s upcoming bond measure on the November ballot.  Mayor John Kovash also presented two finance awards to Finance Director Richard Seals.

After community comments and a report from Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt, the council got down to the business portion of the agenda.

Committee on Citizen Involvement

After several months of discussion, the council approved a resolution establishing bylaws for the Committee on Citizen Involvement. This committee annually reviews the way the city engages the public regarding land use.

The creation of a committee on citizen involvement (CCI) is required in Oregon Statewide Planning Goals and Guidelines Goal 1. “To develop a citizen involvement program that insures the opportunity for citizens to be involved in all phases of the planning process,” states the first line of Goal 1.

In prior years, the city council designated CCI responsibilities to the planning commission. However, this year, the city council requested the CCI be comprised of the city council, the planning commission chair and the historic review board chair.

On June 16, the recomposed CCI met for the first time. At the meeting, the committee heard from John Morgan of Morgan CPS Group, who explained the history and the benefits of CCIs. The council explored the suggested format for the committee and reasons for the council to consider adopting a resolution to officially form the revised CCI.

With the resolution establishing bylaws unanimously passed, the city will now begin recruiting for the two at-large positions and a business representative. Two members of the city council, the planning commission chair and the historic review board chair will round out the committee.

Neighborhood Association Merger

In an effort to revitalize two neighborhood associations, the city council approved a request to merge Rosemont Summit and Hidden Springs NAs.

In 2012, the Rosemont Summit Neighborhood Association became an “inactive” neighborhood association and no longer meets because there were no volunteers to replace the president when his term ended. In 2013, despite the best efforts of the then-HSNA president, the HSNA had low participation and was unable to make quorum at four separate meetings.

In late 2013, the two presidents began discussing the possibility of merging the RSNA and HSNA to attain greater efficiencies and to broaden the scope and network of the boundary-sharing NAs. The HSNA passed its resolution to pursue the merger at its January 2014 meeting.

In April, city staff met with the new HSNA officers who articulated their interest in pursuing the boundary change as voted upon by the membership. Their reason for wanting to move ahead with this change in the spring was simple: They wanted to have enough time this summer to host a picnic to bring together the HSNA and RSNA into one combined NA.

In April, the city council provided direction that the HSNA and RSNA should meet one more time at a joint meeting to ensure that residents in each NA had the chance to articulate their support or concern about NA merger. That meeting occurred in late June, and again, the NAs expressed their interest in merging.

With council approval, the former Rosemont Summit president and the current Hidden Springs president will facilitate the merger process, use the HSNA bylaws as a starting point for new bylaws and will hold meetings to adopt bylaws, create a new name and elect new leadership. However, before the merger is official, the two NAs would like to hold a combined meeting so residents can weigh in on the merger and vote.

“I think the process that has been going on for the past year has been eminently fair,” Councilor Mike Jones said.

“The few comments I have heard from citizens have been positive,” Council President Jody Carson said.

The city issued an email last week informing residents in Hidden Springs and Rosemont Summit of the potential merger and city council agenda item.

City Manager Employment Agreement

This item was pulled from the agenda.

Firearms

Taking advantage of a state law provision, the city council adopted an ordinance restricting firearms and dangerous weapons in all city buildings. According to Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton, state law allows cities to regulate loaded and unloaded firearms in city buildings.

In November 2013, the municipal judge enacted an order banning weapons in municipal court and authorizing searches to gain entry to the court. The court also serves as the city council chamber.

The new ordinance provides a uniform ban against weapons and firearms in all city buildings. However, police officers and concealed weapons licensees are exempt.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

Dark Fiber Optic Cable Franchise

“It’s not as ominous as it sounds,” Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said, introducing the next agenda item.

The topic – a dark fiber optic cable network. Dark fiber is simply unused fiber optic cable. The proposed franchise is for a new fiber being installed by Clackamas County. When there are unused fibers, they can individually be leased to other users.

The county came to the city with the franchise proposal because the West Linn-Wilsonville School District would like to lease dark fibers to connect Willamette Primary School and Three Rivers Charter School, both of which are in West Linn.

As part of the agreement, the city will have free access to one dark fiber, which is valued at $3,060 a year. However, the city will still be responsible for connecting buildings to the fiber optic cable.

The dark fiber is fast, secure and reliable, which could be a significant benefit to residents and to the city when it becomes available to city buildings.

The franchise is for a 10-year term with one renewal term of 10 years, for a total possible length of 20 years, and is only for the construction of the dark fiber optic cable.

Councilors Jones and Jenni Tan recused themselves as they have children who attend the two schools mentioned previously. The remaining councilors unanimously passed adopted the ordinance.

Capital Improvement Projects – on-street routes

The Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) recently took on the task of assessing all the on-street trails in West Linn – all 40 miles of them.

Their goal was to prioritize all the trails in the city in public right of way. Using a list of criteria and considering safety, the TAB created a list of connections ranked by the most needed to already completed projects.

The criteria the TAB used included proximity to schools, bus stops and commercial areas as well as how many connections each trail provided. Two things not considered in the criteria were project costs and topography.

What the board came up with is a two-page list (see attachment at bottom of page) of trails broken down into four tiers with Tier 1 being top priorities. A couple of the areas listed in Tier 1 include Hidden Springs Road, Willamette Falls Drive, Rosemont Road (currently undergoing improvements) and Skyline Drive (improvements being considered on the November ballot).

During the Aug. 11 meeting, the council approved using the priority list and its supporting Pathways Planning Map Book as the capital improvement plan for on-street routes.

“It really helps citizens know what the priorities are,” Carson said.

Ballot measure

After hearing an update at last week’s work session, the city council enthusiastically approved a resolution to add a measure to the November ballot to plan a sidewalk/trail on Skyline Drive, spanning from Clark Street down to West Linn High School.

The sidewalk/trail is being considered as a component of the replacement of the 101-year-old Bolton Reservoir, which sits on Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive is bounded by residential properties on the north side of the street and Wilderness Park on the south side of the street.

As the sidewalk/trail would be placed on the northern perimeter of Wilderness Park, a vote is required. The city’s charter (Chapter 11, Section 46) states that park property can only be used for park purposes, and since a sidewalk is not technically a park purpose, the easement needs voter approval.

The public involvement process for the 2013 West Linn Trails Plan revealed that citizens find safe routes to local schools are lacking, making it difficult for all but the closest neighbors to walk or bike safely. The TSP identifies sidewalks and bike lanes along the portion of Skyline Drive that forms the northern perimeter of Wilderness Park as a priority.

The safety issue on Skyline Drive has come up in multiple public forums and there have been numerous requests from citizens that they would like pedestrian and bike access connected that residential area to and from the high school, City Attorney Megan Thornton said.

“We are really just talking about getting authorization to begin” looking at the trail. There is no design or layout yet, Public Works Director Lance Calvert told the council. “It is a very steep corridor. It’s a very tight corridor. … Obviously the goal is to minimize any impacts.”

West Linn resident Jackie Wetzsteon testified in favor of the ballot measure. She spoke of the dangers of children and adults alike walking up and down that section of road.

“This is a primary route for us,” she said. “Let’s start somewhere. We owe this to our kids. … This just seems like a no-brainer. Let’s just start somewhere.”

“It is very dangerous,” Tan said, agreeing with Wetzsteon. “I think this is much needed. We don’t want to wait until someone gets hurt.”

Carson concurred, saying this has been a safety concern of residents in the area for a long time.

The council unanimously voted to place the measure on the November ballot.

Bland water line

The council also voted to spend water system development charges funds on a new water transmission main to connect the Bland and Rosemont pressure zones.

The intertie water line will provide needed backup to the Rosemont zone due to its limited reservoir capacity. This project is in the current adopted budget, the six-tear Capital Improvement Plan and the Water Master Plan, and will be done in coordination with the Bland intertie pump station, which is currently under construction.

Good news for pedestrians in this area, sidewalk construction from Bland Circle to Weatherhill Road will be completed as part of this project, filling in a missing gap of sidewalk.

Eight bids were received for the project and the council unanimously awarded the contract to the lowest bid at $530,530.

“We are seeing prices go up considerably in the past year,” Calvert said, noting that the lowest bid was the only one under the city’s estimated cost for the project. “There is inflation happening out there.”

Cell Towers

The city currently leases cell tower space on its Rosemont Reservoir to telecommunications carriers. The council voted during its meeting to grant nonexclusive leases to AT&T and Verizon to use a portion of the reservoir. AT&T would construct a small building on the reservoir site to house additional facilities and both AT&T and Verizon will place antennas on the water tower.

The leases are for an initial five-year term, with four possible renewals for a total possible term lease of 20 years. The city will receive $33,600 annually per provider, for a total of $67,000 a year.

West Linn resident Gretchen Katko shared story with the council of when her son was injured at Trillium Creek Primary School last year. He fell and broke his arm. And though she was actually on school grounds volunteering at the time of the accident, since she didn’t have cell coverage, it was several hours before she could be reached. She is hoping additional antennas will improve cellphone coverage in West Linn.

The council unanimously approved the leases.

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The next city council meeting will be Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m.