Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge City Council meeting 10/20: Turnaround issue on Hills Street overwhelms council

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Oakridge City Hall Herald Photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor  —  Nearly forty minutes of the regular session meeting of the Oakridge City Council was used discussing a resident’s issue concerning a need for a legally sized turnaround at the East end of Hills Street.

New volunteers, a Fire Chief upgrade and an EMS coordinator on board

Several individuals appeared before the Council who were applying for volunteer positions on city committees. David Ackland was appointed to the Public Safety Committee. Sheri Kendall was appointed to the WAC subcommittee. Lastly, Barbara Council-Burney joined the Parks, Trees, and Trails Committee. City Administrator James Cleavenger noted that there are still approximately twenty openings for volunteers on the various committees. The Planning Commission vacancies were mentioned as a priority need.

Scott Hollett was sworn in as Fire chief by the city administrator. Jim Cole was sworn in by Chief Hollett as the new Emergency Services Coordinator.

Warming Center makes progress on a new home

Kathy Holston, representing the warming center, spoke next.  This  volunteer group has coordinated the efforts in the past to have a warming center available to individuals when temperatures dip to near freezing. They came to ask the City for the use of a building because of the closure of the Willamette Activity Center (WAC), where it had previously been located. The first choice, per Holston, would be the community building at Greenwaters Park. She explained that the need would be intermittent, based on expected nighttime temperatures. The warming center would be used over the nighttime period. Mayor Hollett voiced a concern that the warming center might restrict renting of the facility.

Robeart Chrisman, city maintenance supervisor, offered a possible solution. There is a concession building adjacent to the ballpark behind the Willamette Activity Center (WAC). This building appeared to be large enough for the intended use and had separate restrooms. Staff was directed to investigate this possibility and have the CA report back to council.

Relief in sight for our overworked treatment plant

The City’s engineer, Ed Hodges, Zoomed in to substantiate a bid to repair many of Oakridge’s manholes. These leaking manholes have been a major source of infiltration and inflow (I&I) for many years because of their age. Chrisman also was very supportive of the needed work. The $53,500 bid was approved by Council.

Broken water valves at the heart of turnaround discussion

Kelly Brewer of Oakridge was present to discuss the conflict that had come between the Brewers and the City’s maintenance department over the need for a legal turnaround at the end of Hills Street. Kelly brought a number of photos to explain the dilemma that has been brewing for over half a year. The Council had many questions that were answered by city personnel and then refuted by Brewer.

At some point late in the discussion, seeing no solution in sight, Councilor Whitney suggested that the CA work with all the parties to develop solutions and brief the council on the outcome. She stated that the council are not experts in this field and the outcome should be determined outside of council.

Just before moving on to other business, Mr. Chrisman posed a possible working solution. He stated that Hills Street could be linked to Jasper Road, alleviating the need for a turnaround. Staff will research this option and the CA will report back to council.

City to once again have a Community Services Director

Rick Zylstra, lifelong Oakridge resident, has been re-hired as Community Development Director. This comes after about a two-year furlough from the position. Rick recently earned a masters degree in Community & Regional Planning. Prior to being re-hired, Rick recently worked as an independent contractor for the city. As part of his work, Zylstra was able to have a previously issued DEQ warning letter rescinded. The resulting DEQ fine would have been around $18,000 had it not been rescinded. Rick’s contracted work also included resolving a number of issues that the CA indicated had overwhelmed his capabilities.

More air purifiers on the way

In his remarks, the CA reminded all of the candidate forum being held this Saturday at the Oakridge High School gymnasium. The event starts at 6:30 pm. Cleavenger also mentioned that Oakridge Air should be in receipt of more air purifiers to be given to locals. He also reminded the Council of the public safety fee Town Hall meeting being held Saturday, October 29th in the High School gymnasium at 6 pm.

Police Chief Kevin Martin announced the upcoming Trunk or Treat event that will be put on by the police department on Halloween day/evening next to the police station. As School board member, he announced a vacancy in the Board and was  soliciting for candidates. The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 2nd. As Police Chief, he indicated his desire that both measures on the ballot, measures 112 and 114, be defeated.

Westfir fire department to split from Oakridge?

Lastly,  Councilor Dawn Kinyon made mention of the efforts being made by Westfir to establish a fire department. Chief Hollett attested to the fact that Westfir does have a fire truck being stored in the Oakridge fire station.

Mayor Hollett announced that Oakridge would be looking closely at the current contract for services with Westfir for any possible breaches of contract.


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