Mayor’s Message – State of the City
Just a couple weeks ago, I joined the mayors from many of the other cities in Clackamas County to present and discuss the State of the City. The forum was hosted by the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce and I’m so grateful for their partnership with our City. I know many of you didn’t get a chance to make the event, but it’s important to me that you have a sense of what’s happening in Happy Valley.
Since my time on City Council began in 2002, there has been quite a bit of change. Back then, the population was around 3,000 residents and City Hall was in a farmhouse. We didn’t have a library or community policing center. Today, Happy Valley is near 19,000 and growing by over 1,000 residents each year. While there are some challenges with growth, we have an opportunity to manage it in a way that is right for our community. We are building the City citizens have envisioned in numerous planning exercises.
As I highlighted in my last article, we’ve been receiving several annexation petitions for property in the former Damascus area. Development that far east is still a few years away while we work with property owners and the community to develop a comprehensive plan to guide development. We are hoping to begin those planning efforts during this next year.
The City Council has also approved a few large subdivisions that will bring over 2,000 new housing units to Happy Valley. Much of this will be phased in over 10 years and will be associated with numerous infrastructure projects (roads, parks, etc.).
We’re not just growing our residential base, but adding new businesses to Happy Valley. In 2016, the City Council and I personally welcomed 18 new business with more already in 2017. I think most would agree that these businesses help bring balance to Happy Valley.
Our growth requires true partnership and teamwork with external agencies that provide parks, water, sewer, and transportation services. I’m grateful for the collaboration we’ve received from these service providers. However, as we grow up, the City is evaluating this service district model for parks, sewer, and transportation. What was good 10-20 years ago, may not be true any longer. We are at a unique point in our history, have different needs, so what we need as a city is different than what other communities that surround us might need. The Council is eager to have the City provide the services that our residents have asked us to improve.
Growth isn’t the only thing we’ve been working on at City Hall. For several months, we’ve had a contractor replacing and improving the boardwalk in Happy Valley Park. The City paid off the debt on the City Hall building 10 years early, saving nearly $1 million in interest. We also improved our credit rating and received several awards for best practices in financial management.
With all of this going on, some may fear Happy Valley’s character is at risk, but the health of our community remains a top priority and one we don’t take for granted. We wouldn’t have our small town and close-knit feel without our homegrown community events. The concert series in the park and the one next to the Library continue to grow in popularity. Our 4th of July, National Night Out, Harvest Festival, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and other events continue to draw new families. Specifically, our National Night Out was one of only 3 cities in Oregon to receive an award, placing 45th in the country. The Happy Valley Library also continues to be an active place with roughly 25,000 visitors every month.
It’s been a busy year! The state of our City is strong. We have a lot on our agenda and I’m more optimistic now than ever before about the future of our community.
Mayor Lori DeRemer