Molalla: DON’T TREAD ON THE TAXPAYERS!

Note: Thanks to the diverse Molalla Blog readers who pushed the blog over the “lucky” 13,000 hit mark yesterday! “13” is Oregonfirst’s lucky number – and to date it’s been a great year with the defeat of the urban reserves, the defeat of local motocross, the replacement of the fake incompetent planner with affordable County Contract Planning and, best of all,  growing local awareness about the need to know WHERE OUR MONEY GOES! 

Together, an aware public can prevent further waste of our hard-earned public funds! Thanks for your support of Molalla Blog – and don’t forget: it’s YOUR MONEY AND YOUR RESPONSIBILITY NOT TO LET IT GO TO WASTE IN THE HANDS OF INCOMPETENTS!

Here’s the symbol of the taxpayer’s revolt against any more WASTE of public funds by Molalla:

We, the TAXPAYERS, who fund the state, county and city projects, are on the warpath about any boondoggles like the totally idiotic idea that Molalla needs – OR MOST OF ALL COULD AFFORD TO BUILD –  a Forest Road truck bypass.

Hey Molalla, if you want to do another “feasibility study” to add to your gigantic pile of worthless “studies” done at public expense that have NEVER BEEN IMPLEMENTED, then get out your general fund check book and start hiring your good old boy crews to go measure and head scratch. Waste your OWN tanking city funds for change because no matter what, we all know YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN A NEW ROAD!

Rational citizens, citizens who read the paper, talk to agencies and attempt to assemble FACTS, know there is NO WAY a puny, stalled, ill managed, in denial, crumbling decayville like Molalla could afford to build a new road of any type – let alone an approved road through massive wetlands that would require associated bike lanes and sidewalks.

Molalla has two choices: open the potholed 20 foot wide quasi-private Forest Road as is to trucks and see how liability and social concerns play out – or understand that a REAL ROAD falls fully under REAL MODERN ROAD STANDARDS, including lanes for bikes and sidewalks.

Unlike the people of TEAM, who apparently still believe there is a tooth fairy, I call and do the research. ODOT confirmed that ANY new road needs at least a parallel bike and hike trail, either attached to the edge of the road or running along side. How’s that looking, TEAM? Have you figured how you would get enough Right of Way (ROW) to facilitate that? I can hear the howls from private County landowners if any attempt at eminent domain is mounted so the public has new bike/hike access along the Forest Rd.

Another joke aspect is wetlands, which are extensive along the Forest Rd. Talking with the ODOT rep, I raised the issue of another walk of shame Molalla grant project: The improvements to Toliver/213 that the city backed out of after tons of engineering, claiming lack of funds. That laughable “lack of funds” was a mere one and a half million dollars. The ODOT rep said the price went up on that project because of – drum roll please – WETLANDS AND BEAR CREEK.

LOL, because if ANYTHING is in abundance along most of the decayed 20 foot barely paved strip called the Forest Rd, it is WETLANDS AND BEAR CREEK! Anyone with a brain can see the VERY EXPENSIVE WETLAND MITIGATION writing on the wall.

So TEAM, take down the barriers, send the big rigs onto the so-called ROW that is currently in place. Because lacking that action, any move to use ANY public grant money for something that is clearly not within the scope of Molalla will result in massive protest to every agency involved: The State’s new sustainable roads dept., headed by Lynn Peterson, has already heard an earful about this “project”. The files of Business Oregon, ODOT, the Chair of OTC and the County have already begun to bulge with “you must be kidding” letters outlining Molalla’s ongoing failure to implement after public “studies” are done with PUBLIC GRANTS.

So go for it, failed “manager” Atkins and “stuff em in” Clarke: The TAXPAYING PUBLIC is WAY AHEAD of you this time! It’s rock and hard place for Molalla on this grant if the City Council is stupid enough to send it to County:  either the public will rise up with more ill will and kill the grant with citizen involvement and FACTS about Molalla’s history of failure to follow though and its pathetic lack of funds or, if the grant is given and it proves, as everyone but the sleazy good old boys, TEAM, and “stuff em in” Clarke already knows, that it is WAY WAY WAY out of Molalla’s capacity to build and maintain anything new, then we’ll all be able to KILL THE NEXT GRANT with the “I told you so” on this one!

What GARBAGE that a low quality city could even insult its citizens with a smoke and mirrors sideshow like this!

What GARBAGE that a failed city “manager” with less than two months to go on the “job” would have the gall to promote this boondoggle.

What GARBAGE that the city leaders FAILED to assemble the serfs who would “host” the opening of the Forest Rd before any grant was considered? It’s just the urban reserves  redux – Molalla is sadly deluded if it thinks it can dictate what happens to County lands and County residents.

And finally, what TOTAL GARBAGE that a city with nothing to fix the infrastructure already in place – and 5 years of deferred priorities to boot! – would have the gall to ask for a cent from public funds!

What GARBAGE that a city that still doesn’t have a realistic residential roads System Development Charge in place – and that is playing at deferring a million in commercial SDC’s – would have the gall to ask for a cent of public funds!

It was easy to access the “deciders” at the Oregon Business Commission in March. Top business leaders took my statement of concern and listened – I sat at the “big table” and explained why we can’t afford any more “Molalla’s” sucking the state dry on pie in the sky planning.

I guess I’ll just have to get the anti-boondoggle grant posse going again – because the prospects for Molalla are even worse than when I write the following statement in March. The urban reserves was killed at County after the statement was written, so we have one more piece of proof of Molalla’s incompetence and inability to draft realistic plans for its highly limited future.

Hey NUMB AS A STATUE fake Molalla “leaders”, DON’T TREAD ON THE TAXPAYERS WITH ANY MORE WASTEFUL BALONEY!

We taxpayers are real, we have the FACTS, we have the connections and we are ready to strike against your WASTE at a moment’s notice – so we dare you to BRING IT ON!

Statement to Business Oregon opposing ANY grant for the Forest Rd (just the tip of the ice berg if the Council is dumb enough to go for this grant!):

3/11/2011

THE ISSUE: Business Oregon’s advocacy for a $60,000 lottery fund grant for a “feasibility study” for a three mile Molalla Forest Rd. arterial bypass, a new outlet to Highway 213 and Mathias Rd upgrades to connect Molalla brownfields.  Currently, the very poor condition, abandoned Forest “road” is less than 20 feet wide and is local access only. The raised road bed traverses extensive wetlands and it is listed as the lowest priority in the 2001 Molalla Transportation Plan. Although Molalla owns a 60 foot ROW, most of the surrounding land is not in the Molalla UGB.

A modern arterial road must be at least 75 feet wide. Extensive eminent domain would be required. Recently, adding one mile of two new lanes to a functional modern two lane road in Bethany was listed at a cost of at least 15 million dollars.  

 

Business Oregon’s Janet Hillock has promoted  this “feasibility study” in spite of a memo from Mike Solt saying he would “much prefer” to see short connector links off Highway 211 (Molalla’s Main Street) to the industrial brownfields.

When questioned about this “feasibility study”, ODOT’s Sonya Kazen noted on the phone that “Maybe Molalla needs to do this study to finally prove to itself it can’t afford the Forest Road. Then it could concentrate on the 211 Corridor”.  That comment doesn’t inspire public trust in the process or expectation for a positive outcome.

CITY OF MOLALLA’S GRANT HISTORY/ FINANCIAL LIMITATIONS:

Street Fund: DEFICIT: – $136,265

Planning Department DEFICIT: over $400,000 and growing each month

Urban Renewal Fund: $154.057

Street Capital Improvement Fund: $284,421

Street SDC Fund: $150,675

General Fund working capital: $496,964

The City of Molalla’s “Planning Director” is a lay person who has, since 2006, wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and city funds attempting to justify a 50 year, 2,300 acre urban reserve for a city of 8,000 to satisfy land speculators. At least 8 versions of a so-called “comp plan” have been produced over 7 years without County or State adoption. Clackamas County and DLCD have repeatedly told Molalla that its inflated population prediction for the 50 year reserve isn’t legally defensible.

Molalla received a $122,000 TGM grant to write the 2007 Downtown Master Plan/ 211 Streetscape Plan which still has not been fully adopted or implemented. The Downtown Plan contains three pages of “needed” road projects, prioritized over 20 years, totaling 63 million dollars. The 1-5 year priority road fixes in the City have been ignored for lack of funds. The City is suggesting that neighborhoods agree to pay back bonds to fix city owned roads. Molalla has only $300,000 total in available Street Funds.

In 2002, Molalla entered into a contract for an ODOT matching fund grant for help with an approx. $1,500,000 intersection improvement project. Studies and engineering were done, but in 2007 Molalla abandoned the project for lack of matching funds. If Molalla couldn’t come up with 20% matching funds for that small $1,500,000 project, how can Business Oregon pretend Molalla could fund a 20-30 million dollar + road project?

Molalla charges the lowest SDCs of any greater METRO city; the low (or no) SDCs allowed developers to overbuild cheaper than average houses in the “boom”. Now, Molalla’s home values are falling faster than the State average. Year to year loss in value was just listed at 18.9% on Zillow. Lack of SDCs has caused Molalla’s inability to provide quality of life features like adequate parks and road repairs; local residents have the longest commute in the County.

Molalla offered a million dollar SDC waiver intended to attract jobs, but a loophole has allowed a developer proposing 170 apts. /commercial space downtown to tie up the waiver for over a year, even though the project lacks private investment funding. Over two million dollars of downtown road improvements would be required for this project; Molalla lacks funds and promotes a “future” Forest Rd. “bypass” as a substitute for the downtown improvements. A great deal of ODOT time and $42,300 “quick” TGM grant still haven’t produced an acceptable zoning/transportation plan for this essentially residential million dollar SDC waiver project.

BUSINESS OREGON’S PROCESS DEFICENCIES:

Business Oregon has failed to consider Molalla’s very limited financial/professional resources. Molalla has only about $300,000 combined in Street SDC and Urban Renewal funds. Business Oregon hasn’t given this outlandish proposal the “straight face” test.

Business Oregon should vet grants to the local public. Business Oregon now has a growing file of negative comments from local citizens about this preposterous “study”.

Business Oregon and ODOT should only promote grants that have a high probability of implementation. Given Molalla’s history of non- performance, lack of SDCs and its dire finances, the Forest Road is a total pipe dream. Agencies must respect Oregon’s limited resources and guide cities to realistic plans that fit the financial and professional limitations of each city.

Without quality of life features, sound city finances and professionals in professional positions, there is little hope of attracting quality investors to off the beaten path cities like Molalla. Who would invest in a city that has poor quality community development in a location that requires a long commute in times of peak oil?

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