MOLALLA: Laughing Stock, Puppet City Council!

BERLIN (Reuters) – “High oil prices are a threat to the global economic recovery and present a challenge the world will have to face over the long term, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist said on Wednesday.

The age of cheap oil is over... ” Fatih Birol said at a conference in Berlin.” – Reuters

A sea of red-sweatered opposition couldn’t stop Washington County’s commissioners from voting to widen a mile-long stretch of Northwest Bethany Boulevard from its current two-lane configuration to four lanes.

The four-lane project carries a price tag of $9.3 million. That doesn’t include right-of-way acquisition, which could top $5 million.” -Dana Tims, The Oregonian (article posted below)

It’s open season on absurd proposals, as usual, in Molalla these days. We will soon troop to County hearings to REJECT the legally indefensible urban reserves which have been consistently REJECTED in State and County feedback since 2007. As recently as a week ago, Mayor Clarke was in an informal meeting with County Chair Lynn Peterson. When Peterson asked assembled communities what they needed, Clarke, I am told, said Molalla “needed” the County to pass the reserves. And Peterson said NO: that the County could not accept Molalla’s far out of scale population projection because it would take a growth share from other cities.

That’s how it works, folks – there is an acceptable growth projection for the ENTIRE COUNTY (Molalla is not stand alone, it is PART OF A COUNTY!) and any out of proportion projection given to one city would affect all others. It is completely pathetic the County has to waste our public funds hearing garbage.

Another County official recently noted that Molalla, with its low value, archaic buildings, is ripe for infill. The County is looking for sustainable practices – and infill is at the top of that list. Do we need to bring a photo essay to show what passes for “developed” sites in Molalla? Ha, ha! That would be a fun presentation: Shitty little one story ugly, outdated strip malls, decayed brownfields, tons of empty storefronts and a downtown with buildings so flimsy they might blow away in a strong wind. That’s called get out the bulldozer and start over – that’s RIPE for infill. But who would “invest” in a place that can’t cover Main Street ditches with sidewalks, let alone update downtown?

And speaking of garbage, the Council was given the option of closing its planning dept., which is already way over $400,000 in DEFICIT, and using County contract planning for a mere $75 an hour.

But what did the puppet, can’t think for themselves Council do? All but Needham and Clark voted for “option 2” to keep fake, untrained plannin’ Potter at “work” making a total hash out of the city and to steal another $50,000 from general funds to “help” the plannin fool! Are they kidding? Where is any respect for their taxpayer residents.

I guess those on the Council who voted to retain fake plannin’ Potter’s “services” never heard that REAL PLANNERS HAVE A 6 YEAR COLLEGE DEGREE AND A NATIONAL CERTIFICATION? That’s what County contract planning provides – PROFESSIONAL PLANNING done CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME, with top-notch legal professionals to back up the $75 an hour fee.

Did those puppet Councilors figure in the legal costs that Potter consistently racks up? Or the CERTIFIED PLANNER  reality? Or the great customer service County provides, in stark contrast to the mistake ridden, arrogant “work” of the fake plannin’ dude?

Oh, well, my husband is surely right when he said those of us who oppose Molalla’s “plans” should clap that Potter is retained, because NOTHING does a better job at killing any chance of “recovery” in Molalla than having the fake plannin’ dude enshrined at city hall. All it takes for anyone to run away from any investment is a “meeting” with the fake plannin’ dept.

So thanks! to those “wise” Councilors who decided to continue to pour money down the toilet called Molalla plannin’. We salute you for shooting your city in both feet. Toss on some more DEFICIT SPENDING and you will have shot the city in the heart.

And speaking of insanity, it has been hilarious to trace how the clueless puppet Council was manipulated by “I don’t live here” Atkins and Jamie Johnk, County grant writer, into reversing one of the few wise votes the Council made: to endorse a SMALL Forest Road project centered ONLY around the current industrial park. Screaming emergency because he didn’t get his way, Atkins dragged in Johnk a week later to do a hard sell, fear based “presentation”. The Council puppets, less Councilor Clark, caved in fear and reversed themselves. Shame on the Council for NOT DOING ITS HOMEWORK and for NOT STICKING TO ITS ORIGINAL DECISION!

I am having a field day on that Forest Rd. grant issue. I have added up the 20 year projected road “needs” outlined in the 2007 Downtown Master Plan (done with a $122,000 TGM grant and STILL not officially adopted!). Those “needs” come to 63 MILLION DOLLARS! LOL!

And the 1-5 year HIGHEST PRIORITY NEEDS in the city limits in the SE part of town are IGNORED.

And the NEED FOR AN IMPROVED 211 CORRIDOR WITH SIDEWALKS AND BURIED UTILITIES IS IGNORED!

I have traced the comments about the Forest Rd grant through various agencies. ODOT’s rep said to me “Maybe Molalla needs to get this grant to finally prove to itself that it CAN’T AFFORD THE FOREST ROAD and then would concentrate on the 211 corridor”.

Swell! The public is supposed to endorse the WASTE OF LOTTERY MONEY so Molalla can prove the obvious? No way! The article about Bethany shows how massively expensive road building is – a one mile stretch of a real modern  2 lane road, widened to 4 lanes, is projected to cost at least FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS? The Forest Rd. is NOT endorsed as an ODOT project. Molalla has less than $400,000 in combined SDC, urban renewal and street capital improvement monies. The Forest Rd is a broken down, barely one lane piece of crap: so where is the TWENTY MILLION PLUS going to come from?

I was amazed that “I don’t have a stake in the future of the city” manager Atkins failed to show up in Troutdale a couple of weeks ago for the important meeting to from a regional Area Commission on Transportation (ACT). That 4th formation meeting featured Gail Achterman, the Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC). OTC is the TOTAL OVERSIGHT for all transportation projects in Oregon.

Chair Achterman is a total advocate of diverse citizen involvement in all aspects of government. I am sure she will salute our ongoing community involvement as the letters now are pouring in to ODOT, Business Oregon and Clackamas County to DECRY A CENT OF GRANT MONEY FOR ANY FOREST ROAD NONSENSE for a city that can’t afford to fix a pothole or cover the ditches on 211!

Shall we just say: THE GRANT SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN!

There are wonderful opportunities for citizen input to policy makers at all kinds of Commissions that are the oversight for these grants. I plan to be front and center soon at several agencies to say that we can’t afford any more “aspirations” coming from a decayed, unprofessional, clueless crumbling place like Molalla. The agencies need to vet a city’s financial structure and to consider whether a city has followed through on past studies and grants BEFORE any grants are written.

To date, I have strings of internal emails about the Forest Rd: most stunning, in addition to that ODOT statement about “needing” to prove that Molalla can’t afford and doesn’t need a Forest Rd.,  is an email from a policy setter at Business Oregon. That commenter  says he would “much prefer” a study of connector roads from 211 to the supposed industrial sites! Gee, that is EXACTLY what the puppet Council VOTED FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Then, “I could care less about anything but helping land speculators” manager Atkins called his “emergency” meeting and got noxious Jamie Johnk in to do her hard sell, scare tactics on the puppet Council.

And so the failures in Molalla spin on and on and on and the money flows out and out and out for insane, legally indefensible nonsense – all because people ELECTED to learn about issues and to protect the best interests of their community AREN’T DOING THEIR JOBS!

So fail and flail away, Molalla City Council: you get the garbage you deserve when you are too lazy to do your own research and when you stoop to herd mentality.

And by the way – has the herd of sheep Council READ THE BUDGET? Good luck on keeping the doors open in the so-called “city” of Molalla….. foreclosures at a rate far above the State average, house values tanking faster than the state average, no professional planning (just an arrogant, scoff law clueless dude with ZERO customer service skills!), crumbling infrastructure, businesses closing (hello urban decay), reserves about to be rejected (so back to square one in “planning”), gas prices rising to kill the ability of commuters to get to the CHEAP city of Molalla, and deficits popping up all over in the quarterly budget report – and a Council composed largely of easy to frightened, herd mentality people who are putty in an unethical city “managers” hands.

Does the Council understand that we can’t afford WELFARE for the City of Molalla anymore? That it was ILLEGAL not to have accounted for past SDCs (were they even collected or did someone look the other way or pocket them?).

To entice business and industry in any economic climate, let alone in the current recession, a city must provide GREAT OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE.

Why would any decent business even consider locating to a place that has no multi-modal transportation, that has ill-planned cheap development, that is nearly bankrupt and continues to spend public money in exceedingly dumb ways, that features a clueless herd of sheep pretending to be a City Council and that retains a literal bozo posing as a “planner”?

I am currently wading through piles of documents that just arrived from ODOT regarding the yet to be funded Hart Street MILLION DOLLAR SDC WAIVER “project” (hold the laughter, please! You might start to jeer or cry if you saw the reams of “plans” and “reports” associated with THAT FIASCO). These copious documents point again to the MESS that happens without a CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL PLANNER.  Stay tuned for more information about how a sleazy little town wastes our money.

Enjoy your FAILURE, City of Molalla: you deserve it in spades! But I, for one, won’t look the other way when your FAILURES cost me and my fellow taxpayers MONEY!

And now, read on to see what it costs and the kind of community outrage that has happened with the NEEDED upgrade to a REAL WORKING ROAD in Bethany – a road with ACTUAL TRAFFIC PROBLEMS and a ROAD WITH FUNDING FOR FIXES! And then think back on the Forest Rd! I’m thinking that the Forest Rd would be more like a THIRTY MILLION DOLLAR PROJECT But, hey, when you live in La La Land  with Atkins and his puppet Council who gives a rat’s ass about FACTS, right? And, just wait till we address the impacts to wetlands (gee, after all, don’t go there!).

Bethany Boulevard decision paves way for June 2012 widening and improvements at U.S. 26 interchange

Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 10:25 PM     Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 10:42 PM
Dana Tims, The Oregonian By Dana Tims, The Oregonian
Bethany.15674195.JPGBenjamin Brink / The OregonianWashington County commissioners approved a four-lane plan for the stretch of Bethany Boulevard between Bronson and West Union roads.

HILLSBORO — A sea of red-sweatered opposition couldn’t stop Washington County’s commissioners from voting to widen a mile-long stretch of Northwest Bethany Boulevard from its current two-lane configuration to four lanes.

The 3-2 vote was handed down late Tuesday night, despite a standing-room crowd of homeowners representing a handful of long-developed subdivisions north of U.S. 26.

Nearly all of the nearly 250 people who sat through the long and often contentious meeting wore bright red sweaters and shirts in a colorful show of solidarity for the anti-widening group 3not5.

Many property owners said both during and after the meeting that they will legally challenge the county’s right to slice off portions their residential property along the busy boulevard.

“I don’t think it’s over,” said Fran Bates, who lives in Oak Hills. “But the county hurt us last night.”

Previous coverage
Read prior stories on the proposed widening of Bethany Boulevard.

The four-lane project carries a price tag of $9.3 million. That doesn’t include right-of-way acquisition, which could top $5 million.

Nearly 20,000 vehicles per day now drive along Bethany Boulevard at peak hours, according to traffic studies. That figure is projected to rise to more than 35,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

Commission Chairman Andy Duyck rejected a five-lane option for the boulevard as “a non-starter.” A slimmed-down three-lane option, meanwhile, would prove insufficient to accommodate future employment and residential growth in the unincorporated areas of northwest Washington County, he said.

“What four lanes does get us is capacity, which we are really going to need there going forward,” he said.

Reached Wednesday, Duyck said threats of legal action typically accompany controversial road-widening projects. But he flatly rejected the notion that court challenges from aggrieved property owners will delay the project from getting underway as scheduled in June 2012.

“There’s a definite process for acquisition and purchase of right-of-way,” Duyck said. “I know some folks would like it to drag out for years, but it’s not going to.”

Jim Zupancic, a Lake Oswego attorney hired to represent the anti-widening effort, agreed with Duyck’s assessment.

“The condemnation process allows the county to go forward with its plans on the time frame it has proposed,” he said. “However, landowners have constitutionally protected rights to have the fair-market value of their property determined by a jury so they can get paid just compensation.”

2010-05-26_Bethany Blvd.png

Affected residents will now wait to see the engineering designs the county puts forward, Zupancic said. He hopes that county promises to push the new roadway’s centerline as far west as possible will save the east-side backyards that currently are threatened.

Micki Sparr, an Oak Hills resident, said that by Wednesday afternoon, she was feeling “a little better” about the outcome.

“We actually accomplished quite a bit,” she said, “but we didn’t get the perfect choice.”

County plans to widen the boulevard are anything but new. As far back as 1988, transportation-planning documents indicated that Bethany Boulevard would eventually become five lanes.

The board linked its widening vote to a companion project to expand the roadway’s interchange to the south with U.S. 26. That decision was a response to area homeowners, who complained that widening Bethany Boulevard made little sense if traffic was only going to back up on the constrained freeway overpass.

County planners assured commissioners that, although the state Transportation Department lacks money to finance the overpass widening, the county has funds budgeted to tackle both projects simultaneously.

In addition to Duyck, commissioners Roy Rogers and Bob Terry voted in favor of widening. Commissioners Dick Schouten and Greg Malinowski, whose district includes the Bethany Boulevard area, voted against.

“The time has come for us to think less about the gold-plated and figure out a way to make our resources go further,” said Schouten, whose motion to delay the project entirely until new traffic and population projections come next year was defeated, also by a 3-2 tally.

Emily E. Smith contributed to this report.

Dana Tims

© 2011 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.

oregonlive.com

Bethany Boulevard-area residents consider options, react to Washington County commissioners’ plan for four-lane road

Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011, 12:13 PM     Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011, 12:15 PM
Emily E. Smith, The Oregonian By Emily E. Smith, The Oregonian

It’s no secret by now that Tuesday night’s Washington County commissioners meeting disappointed the hundreds of residents in attendance.

I’ve spoken to several this week, and while all expressed disappointment and say they’re interested in seeing that the county abides to its plan, some say they’re unsure how to proceed.

Here’s a collection of five residents’ reactions to the county’s decision on widening Northwest Bethany Boulevard from two to four lanes.

Previous coverage
Read prior stories on the Bethany Boulevard widening.

Fran Bates, who lives in Oak Hills and has been active in 3not5, the community group opposed to the county’s five-lane proposal, said Wednesday the board’s decision still stung.

Through public testimony, letters and petition signatures, more than 2,000 people expressed concerns about the county’s plan, and in response, “the county basically said ‘tough luck,'” he said. “Disappointment is really a kind word” to describe the feeling he’s left with.

Bates said the fight may come before the commissioners at a public hearing, or it may end up in court. But “whether we can change the decision,” he said, “probably not.”

Michelle Schnoor
, of Oak Hills, said she’s grateful that commissioners didn’t seriously consider the five-lane option.

“It’s a better outcome than it what it could have been,” she said, “but my heart still goes out to the homeowners who will lose good portions of their backyards.”

2010-05-26_Bethany Blvd.png

After many months of raising concerns, organizing themselves and addressing the board, some neighbors might decide to bow out now, she said.

“I think a lot of people are fatigued by it,” she said. “There will be a fair amount of people who will say, ‘It’s good enough, right?'”

The mother of two young children, Schnoor worries about her kids crossing several lanes of traffic to visit school friends in nearby neighborhoods. She said she’ll continue to speak up about her concerns as the county moves forward with its plan.

“We’ve put a lot of fight into this and a lot of time and energy,” she said. With design and engineering plans not yet finalized, and more unanswered questions, there is still opportunity for neighbors to make a difference, she said.

Norm Rose, Oak Hills Homeowners Association vice president, said the four-lane plan is a compromise on the county’s part, but it still negatively impacts the community.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” he said.

The addition of traffic signals could push through-traffic, looking to avoid stop lights, into the neighborhoods, he said. And the four-lane road could require more children to travel by bus to a school within walking distance.

In spite of his disappointment, Rose said he was encouraged to hear that commissioners may move forward with improvements to the U.S. 26 overpass, which he said is a traffic clog that widening Bethany Boulevard won’t fix.

Keith Blankenbaker, the president of 3not5, lives in one of the homes that backs up the boulevard and will lose land.

Blankenbaker said based on the plans that have been drawn up thus far, the county will shave at least 16 feet off his backyard, which nearly halves it.

The result for him is not as “desperate” as it is for some of his neighbors. Other homes along the boulevard may have their backyards sliced to within four to 10 feet of their homes, he said.

Rose and Blankenbaker both expressed doubt about whether the county’s plan really is a four-lane plan. It provides an extra turn lane at the intersections of several neighborhoods, and the result, Blankenbaker said closely resembles a five-lane road.

Micki Sparr, an Oak Hills resident and publisher of the Oak Hills Oracle, said Wednesday she was trying to see the positive in a mostly negative outcome.

“We actually accomplished quite a bit,” she said, “but we didn’t get the perfect choice.”

Sparr said that she joined the opposition group out of sympathy for the homeowners who were faced with losing land.

Although she’s chalking up the four-lane option as a partial victory, she knows for the homeowners whose backyards are affected, the decision might never seem like a win.

“There’s one family I know that planted sequoia trees when they first moved in, 40 years ago,” she said. “They did that for the future, and those trees are going to be gone. That’s just always going to hurt.”

Emily E. Smith

© 2011 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.

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