Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing delivered a State of the City Address at Monday night’s City Council meeting highlighting the previous year’s challenges and triumphs while outlining the city’s goals for 2020.
“2019 was a busy year,” he said. “We started out with a 50-year storm that brought nearly 30 inches of snow to the area, damaged trees and power outages that are still fresh in our minds.”
Gowing commended the city and its staff on an efficient response to snowstorm.
Among of litany of other notable achievements, the mayor mentioned an updated police department system which reduced its paper cost by 25 percent, the purchase of 16 acres for the city’s industrial park, the return of roller skating to an improved Armory and the replacement of Middlefield Golf Course’s entire fleet of golf carts with electronic counterparts.
The city also recently purchased a 12-million-gallon effluent storage pond, reducing the need for drinking water and the thermal load on the river.
Gowing noted that the waste treatment plant received the Waste Treatment Plant of the Year Award from the Central Division of Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association.
“These improvements will make the Cottage Grove wastewater system one of the most innovative and sustainable systems in the state,” he said.
The mayor also highlighted the city’s adoption of housing strategies in January 2019 from the 2018 Housing Needs Analysis, which was later complemented by the adoption the Multiple Unit Property Tax Exemption program to encourage development.
Early last year the city also adapted to changes in the Lane Transit District (LTD) presence in Cottage Grove by encouraging a partnership between LTD and South Lane Wheels with a new Mobility on Demand program.
Gowing then distributed awards to members of the community.
Resident Shane May was given a Mayoral Certificate of Appreciation for his organizing of several community events including the Party in the Park and the Emergency Preparedness Fair.
“For several years he has been actively involved in the downtown Halloween Trick or Treat and Christmas in Cottage Grove events,” Gowing said. “This year he took a more of a leadership role in working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Program to organize and pull all the pieces together of those events. He has been a major piece in making these events a tradition, drawing many people downtown.”
Chief Administrative Officer of PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center Tim Herrmann received the Business of the Year Award on behalf of the hospital.
“PeaceHealth stepped in when we lost our hospital in the late ‘90s,” said Gowing. “They came back in and started a new clinic and built us a new hospital in 2003 and has been a key supporter in a lot of community events.”
Turning to the future, the mayor announced the purchase of 300 varieties of trees in February to replace those lost in the snowstorm and the return of the Family Resource Guide, which will available on the city’s website.
Event-wise, the Bohemia Park has reportedly gained the attention of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, which contacted the city to play in the amphitheater.
“Of course, we said yes,” said Gowing.
The band is scheduled to perform on Sunday, June 7.
This year will also see more preparedness for the 2021 International Association of Athletics Federations, which will be held in Eugene in August.
“The event will put the area on the world stage for 10 days as athletes, media and spectators from around the world will come to Oregon,” said Gowing. “The community has already joined several throughout the state offering up local community as a training camp for participants. This will be an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the area.”
Gowing then stated that the city is looking to face modern challenges in 2020 on topics such as cyber security, recycling, homelessness, housing and renewable energy.
“During 2020 we will be taking several major steps in addressing these responsibilities in these areas,” he said.
This year city staff will begin installing upgraded water meters throughout Cottage Grove which are expected to increase accuracy and reduce the waste of drinking water.
Gowing also attributed a partnership with the Lane Council of Governments to the mitigation of cybercrime attacks in the community.
On housing, the mayor said the city looked forward to the promotion of more projects such as the Legion Cottage and Cottage Village tiny home developments.
“Over the last two years, the development process has streamlined to be one of the best programs in the state,” he said.
Gowing also pointed to the upcoming 2020 Census in April.
“It is important to have an accurate count for the community,” he said. “The ability for our community to tap into resources and receive funding for many of our projects depend on a full and accurate count. I encourage everyone in the community to respond quickly and accurately to the Census when it arrives.”
Lastly, Gowing noted that Cottage Grove has participated in renewable energy programs since 2007 with EPUD and Pacific Power and announced that the city will be continuing its participation in the Blue Sky program by increasing its purchase of renewable power to 100 percent.
“The participation resulted in avoiding over 2,697,136 pounds of carbon dioxide or the equivalent of removing about 266 cars from the roads or planting more than 31,100 trees during the 12-year participation,” said Gowing. “We will be encouraging everyone to join us in making this commitment to participate in the use and development of renewable resources.
In other City Council news:
Amendments to Development Code
The council voted unanimously to amend the city’s Title 14 development code related to housing. The purpose of the amendments is to increase the amount and variety of housing options based on the 2018 Housing Needs Analysis recommendations by identifying needs for low- and middle-income family housing and meeting requirements of Oregon House Bill 2001.
Amendments included changes to land uses allowed in residential districts, development standards for residential districts, housing density in residential districts and standards for “special use” buildings.
Housing Development Cost Assistance Program
The council voted unanimously to establish a Housing Development Cost Assistance Program for nonprofit or government developments.
The program’s purpose is to enable the city to provide relief on system development charges and building fees to projects which will help the city meet its broad array of housing needs.
The program will be funded through a trust fund which will be created in the city’s 2020-21 budget and comes with a three-year sunset period.