Plenty of projects that need attention
If the city of Canby were a stove, all burners would be on and pots and pans would be sizzling. Theres a lot going on, a lot to be decided and a lot to simply ponder as Canby enters the second half of 2014.
And Canby Mayor Brian Hodson, who confirmed he will run for another term this November, is relishing it all.
Our stove is like one of those big industrial ones, we have so many things on the burner, Hodson said. But I think this city council and our leadership team have done a good job in making decisions to move Canby in a positive direction.
Work on the new civic center continues to move forward behind the scenes. Hodson admitted that with the voters providing a clear message on wanting the library-civic building, some of the pressure is eased. Now, the work continues in earnest to make the dream a reality for Canby.
Were trying to lock things down on that project and get ink on paper to seal the land deal, Hodson said. Then well start lining up the pieces for a project management team. Weve got some pieces we will need to get done to keep that project moving.
The city is shooting for a spring groundbreaking for the project and then possibly another year to complete the facility.
While that goes on, the city has made a choice for its new city administrator. Regan Bolli will step into the post when contract terms have been agreed upon. That process continues this week.
We are excited about our preferred choice and what that person will bring to the city and the management team, Hodson said. It will be fun to get that ironed out and bring this person (Bolli) on.
Right now, those are the two really big irons in the fire for me and the council to get accomplished, he added.
What else is on the mayors mind?
In this budget cycle we had to make some staffing cuts, which nobody likes to do, Hodson said. We still have a diminished city staff team spread amongst three buildings.
What do we do about that? Are we scrambling to cover all these points of entry for the community?
We need to look at what we need to do there, he added. If we could decrease the points of access to two, it would be a big savings in terms of money and efficiency for city staff and the citizens of Canby. We need to look at that and try to figure out what we should do that is best for staff and for customer service. My feeling is that city staff are running in different directions to cover different tasks.
Other budget questions that Hodson feels the city needs to find answers for are the citys parks and the needs in the police department.
Police and parks are a big piece of our community, Hodson said. We have a well-maintained parks system. How do we prioritize that care and what will that look like? I think parks play an integral part in our economic development.
Public safety is a No. 1 priority for me, he added. The police department has been looking to add another officer for a number of years now. I think public safety speaks to livability of this community, so moving forward we need to find a way to make that happen.
In attending events and activities within the city, Hodson said he makes it a point to seek out opinion. In talking to different segments of Canby on a daily basis, he said two themes keep popping up more restaurant choices and a larger modern hotel.
Hodson noted that Canby hosts a number of diverse events each year, from the Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo to a portion of the End of the Oregon Trail basketball tournament to bike rides and youth events.
He pointed to the End of the Oregon Trail tournament, which originates in Oregon City, but uses two gyms in Canby as part of the event.
It is one of the top high school basketball tournaments in the country between Christmas and New Years and hosts teams from all over the United States and Canada, not to mention a bevy of college coaches looking to recruit girls from each team. Nearly all of those teams stay in the area, but just about all find those accommodations outside of Canby.
That needs to change, said Hodson.
Its all part of a question Hodson said he repeatedly poses to people What is Canby and how does that translate into development?
How do we balance our growth and not become a bedroom community of Portland? he asked. Walking around and talking to people at events like General Canby Day, the Christmas tree lighting, Canbys Big Weekend and the Fourth of July parade, I met people from Eugene, Tualatin, Tigard, Vancouver and other places outside of the area. Either their communities dont do these types of things anymore or they just wanted to see small town America. How do we build on that and keep that as part of our core values?
We can still grow, we will grow – there are several land annexations on the November ballot that are important to our growth – and make it worthwhile for our community in terms of growth. It is about growing cautiously and thoughtfully.
Hodson said the city and community must continue to look at downtown and examine where it is going and what that process might look like.
Are the resources were putting in worth it? he asked. Having a viable heart and core to a city like ours is important. How do we continue to refine and fine tune it downtown? I think the façade improvement program has been fantastic and when we get the civic building up, it will really help us in terms of downtown development. The buildings we, the city, have that are empty or will be empty, getting those filled will add to what we want to do downtown.
One of the things that is helping in answering the many questions surrounding the city is the continuing engagement of citizens in the processes that come up.
Hodson said he continues to be pleased with how Canbys residents take an active role in city conversations.
He also pointed to many city officials using social media to solicit opinion from community members as a positive.
At this point, everything is priority No. 1. How do we prioritize 1A, 1B, 1C and so on? Those are the pieces of the puzzle that we are working on, Hodson said.