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  • 16 Sep 2014

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  • 17 Sep 2014

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Tualatin ponders light-rail vote

In Tuesday’s special election, Tualatin voters will decide if they should have the right to determine the fate of light rail within the city.

Tualatin Measure 34-220 asks voters to prohibit the City Council from authorizing the use of “city resources for public rail transit systems.”

In this instance, city resources are described as: Public funds, staff time, lobbying agreements, property interests and tangible or intangible city assets. Also prohibited would be the right to direct or permit using the aforementioned resources for financing, design, construction or operation of public rail systems without voter approval.

Similar to Tigard Measure 34-210, which passed earlier this year and requires a public vote before the city can pursue high-capacity transit, Tualatin’s collective decision may affect the future of the Southwest Corridor Plan. Unlike Tigard’s measure, however, Tualatin’s only applies to rail, which does not include all forms of high-capacity transit.

“If they approve this, they will have a formal, legal opportunity to vote before the city spends any money,” chief petitioner Aaron Crowley told The Times in May. “This is a great opportunity to dictate where the city goes in the direction of mass transportation.”

Though he was unavailable for comment at press time, Crowley, who lives in Canby and owns Crowley’s Granite Concepts in Tualatin, previously mentioned that he felt many citizens who signed the May petition were possibly less concerned with their right to vote on the matter than they were with the light rail in Tualatin at all.

“The clear, unmistakable majority of those people that signed the petition were not really happy to hear that light rail was planned for Tualatin,” he said. “It ran the gamut of emotions and reactions.”

At last Monday’s City Council meeting, the consideration of an intergovernmental agreement between Tualatin and Metro was scheduled to be discussed. The proposed agreement was in relation to funding planning and public involvement efforts related to the Southwest Corridor. Funds would go toward completing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which would discover the potential impacts and benefits of a future alignment, while also gathering more public feedback.

However, Crowley sent out an email that morning to numerous people, including Tualatin city councilors, city employees and Mayor Lou Ogden.

“The City Council appears to be preparing to sign a contractual agreement and pay Metro city funds just days before voters intervene with the Sept. 16 election,” Crowley wrote. “On behalf of the volunteers who gathered signatures and roughly 2,000 Tualatin voters who signed the initiative petition, we are requesting that the city pull this action item from the scheduled consent agenda.”

One of Crowley’s requests was that the agreement be delayed until after the vote, after a defined scope and cost of the impact statement were approved and after voters agreed to the spending of these funds. Less than an hour later, Councilor Wade Brooksby replied to say the item would be removed from the agenda.

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