In a 25-minute talk during the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon Thursday afternoon, Mayor Eric Niemann provided a lot of positives in his “State of the City” address.
The city has seen great business growth over the past several months and public safety continues to improve through the efforts of the Philomath Police Department, the mayor pointed out.
Niemann also said he believes there was a smooth transition with the mayor and city council changes as well as the various committees and commissions. He added that the city’s strategic plan is in place with progress seen in all areas.
Challenges that lie ahead were also mentioned, including the long overdue need for a new water treatment plant.
“The water treatment plant was built in 1984. It was originally intended to be a 20-year plant; we’re now in year 34 and counting,” Niemann said. “We’re working with our finance director, we’re working with public works to come up with some possible options at the public works committee level and anticipate to see some financing options come forward, some with which may preclude some rate increases, so I’ll give you a heads up on that now.”
Niemann said there has been talk of a town hall meeting on that particular topic in the near future.
“Investment in a new water plant, I think, is critical and something we need to consider as a community collectively,” Niemann said.
Various housing projects around town have also been on people’s minds.
“I think when we talk about some of these developments, it’s a glass-half-empty, glass-half-full depending on your perspective,” Niemann said. “If you’re a business owner, hey that would bring a lot of customers. And in other cases, people are concerned about the traffic, concerned about water and other sorts of things.
“So those are certainly things that we’re looking at in the city council and trying to figure out what makes sense for everyone,” he added.
Niemann put together a new housing development summary for the audience complete with the type and number of units along with the most recent updates. He offered the following information:
• Oak Springs (84 apartments) — Half of the occupancy anticipated this spring with the rest coming open by the end of this summer.
• The Boulevard (258 apartments) — Phase 1 includes 150 apartments; Phase 2 will add 108. Niemann said the occupancy is dependent on when turn-lane construction can begin.
• Millpond Crossing (168 homes) — Five phases. Wetland mitigation underway through the Department of State Lands with additional environmental impacts underway with the Department of Environmental Quality oversight.
• Newton Creek (53 homes) — Currently in an engineering review for public works utilities; hopes to install water, sewer and streets this summer.
• Beelart/North 12th Street (50 homes) — Remains in the annexation process with a LUBA appeal; the city has not received a development application.
• Woodlands/Habitat for Humanity/Ninth Street (5 homes) — Plans to break ground this spring with water, sewer and streets going in this summer.
• Heather Glenn/North 10th Street (10 lots) — Currently in the engineering approval process; hopes to install water, sewer and streets this summer.
• Fawn Meadows/North Ninth Street (15 lots) — Currently finalizing street construction this spring; likely to build one to two houses per year.
Niemann’s talk also included a lot of information about how the city operates, the makeup of the council, the mission statement and other facets of local government.