Rivergrove, oregon: state of the city 2017

As you know, it's customary for mayors to provide an annual report on the State of the City. In larger cities, there is plenty of hoopla attached to this event—speeches, free food, multi-media presentations. On the other hand, Rivergrove, being tiny Rivergrove, does things differently. You can be pleased that your property tax payments (no portion of which is shared with the city) do not pay for entertainment and dinner just to get the mayor's message across. I know that most Rivergrovians appreciate that economy.

Rivergrove at the beginning of 2017 has an official, estimated population of 495, expected to grow slightly in the next year. The City is still, by population, the smallest city in Metro Portland and second smallest by area. Development has slowed considerably since the glory days of subdivision development in the late 2000s, but still some new houses are being built as larger lots are partitioned or subdivided.

Here are some of the highlights of the last year:

·         The Spotlight Was—And Is—on Rivergrove's Roads

Throughout 2016, the Transportation Committee addressed the problems of the two major roads through Rivergrove, the neighborhood collectors, Childs and Pilkington.  Although these are County roads, Clackamas County had suggested that if Rivergrove would adopt a plan for these roads that was acceptable to the County, it would not automatically demand 10' dedications and a significantly wider road when land is partitioned or subdivided. The County also indicated a willingness to consider such traffic-calming features as raised crosswalks and street-painting, and encouraged our goals of connectivity and safety.

A year later, Rivergrove finds itself in a difficult position. The raised crosswalks have been tentatively favored by both the County and many citizens who responded to the committee's survey. Funds are available and these may become a reality in 2017.  However the remaining suggestions have not been accepted by the County and negotiation continues. The next task will be to sort out what is required by state and federal governments and which standards are imposed by the County itself and may be negotiable.

I believe that the City should, in 2017, consider whether Rivergrove should plan to eventually accept jurisdiction of our roads. This question, however, involves so many other factors and would require a long-term plan for financial stability to maintain these roads. Can the City ultimately do a better job in providing safe and attractive roads for Rivergrove? Now is the time to study this issue. (But read on to see one of the other factors involved.)

·         Amending Rivergrove's Boundaries

Last spring, Rivergrove initiated discussions with the City of Lake Oswego and with Clackamas County to amend both cities' municipal service areas, so that Rivergrove could plan to allow for an orderly annexation to Rivergrove of homes along our roads. Even though our roads are under County jurisdiction, the entire right of way—usually many feet beyond the edge of the pavement—is within our city limits. Yet under the present agreement, many of the homes along our roads are in Lake Oswego's municipal service area, rather than Rivergrove's. If Rivergrove were ever to accept jurisdiction of its roads, this would present a serious problem in that not only would Rivergrove not receive highway funds from these homes for road maintenance, but the City could be prevented from adding an amenity such as a walking path. Unfortunately Lake Oswego refused to amend its service areas.

Hearing of this, several homes contiguous to our city limits attempted to annex to Rivergrove, which State law, does not prohibit. The City of Lake Oswego opposed this, and the applications were withdrawn. However, Lake Oswego has suggested further talks with Rivergrove concerning the difficulties this presents to the future of our roads. This will be a topic for further discussion in 2017.

·         Rivergrove Became a Tree City USA Member

Last year, one of our focal points was a reawakened interest in preserving Rivergrove's trees and maintaining a healthy tree canopy for the future. Rivergrove became Oregon's smallest participating city and celebrated the occasion by planting eight new trees in our parks, including a grove of Douglas Firs. Other tree-related activities included a talk by our new City Arborist, Brian French, a tree poetry contest and dedication ceremonies for "Family Trees." Homeowners created Habitat Trees to shelter wildlife when their trees died, and at least one Western Screech Owl couple has moved in already!

A new draft Tree Ordinance was prepared by two subsequent Tree Boards and presented to the public in October for comment. Many good suggestions were offered, so the ordinance went back to the committee for another rewrite this winter and will be back before the public again shortly.

·         Emergency Preparedness

Each winter the Tualatin River reminds us of its powerful presence, as homes along the river are faced with rising waters. Fortunately, we haven't had a major flood since the late '90s, but the City watches river levels closely and plans for sandbag accessibility. If you enjoy river-front living or are in a flood hazard area, as half of the land in Rivergrove is, please understand that Rivergrove must follow federal flood guidelines in order to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which means that you must have the City's permission to add soil or structures to your land, or to make any changes to your property. Since it's a lot easier to get permission before you do it, rather than making required adjustments after, please contact the city manager to see if your ideas can be carried out.

Of course, there are other needs for emergency preparedness, including addressing the threat of earthquakes. A new committee to review our city's preparedness is being formed and would welcome additional members.

·         Goal-Setting for Rivergrove

At the beginning of each year, City Council establishes a list of priorities. That discussion will begin at our Council meeting on February 13th, and the City would like to hear your suggestions. Last year's goals are on the city website, www.cityofrivergrove.com , some of which will continue into 2017. You are invited to join the discussion, either by email or in person that evening. Our goals cover everything from serious concerns to citywide celebrations (did you like the Ice-Cream Social last year?), so opinions are welcome.

·         Newcomers

Our long-term City Manager/City Recorder, Sheri Richards, has officially turned over the reins to Leanne Moll, who is our City's CEO and only employee. You can meet Leanne at Planning Commission and City Council meetings or write to her at Leanne@cityofrivergrove.com

And we start the new year with a new elected official: Councilor Brenda Ruble will occupy the seat formerly held by retiring Councilor Mary Mann.

If you have a neighbor who has moved recently, please let Leanne know, so that we can update our records accordingly and see that newcomers are invited to participate in city events.

Thank you to all who have enriched life in Rivergrove through your volunteer efforts and financial contributions in 2016. I have enjoyed serving as your mayor for the last six years and look forward to another two-year term before handing the job to a successor with fresh new ideas. May all of you have a happy and productive 2017.


Heather Kibbey, Mayor