The City of Roseburg continues to make significant strides in a number of areas, including residential and commercial developments, public safety and cracking down on derelict properties, Mayor Larry Rich said at his annual State of the City address Monday.
But it still has challenges ahead, including providing more affordable housing and dealing with homelessness, he added.
The 26-minute address, delivered to staff and an audience of 10 in the City Council chambers, ticked off some of the main accomplishments for the city in 2019. Perhaps topping the list was the response of city officials, especially police and firefighters, during and following the snowstorms this past winter.
“Record levels of snow resulted in power outages and citizens left without emergency supplies,” Rich said. “Department personnel worked collaboratively with other city departments and outside agencies to aid Roseburg citizens.”
Rich also touted the diversity of Roseburg and how that diversity helps strengthen the community.
“While we live in a community that is comprised of various backgrounds, viewpoints and beliefs, I feel it is those differences that continue to strengthen our city. And it is those differences that will guide us in the future,” Rich said.
Other accomplishments of 2019, cited by Rich, include:
- An ordinance that paved the way for ride-hailing services to operate in the city.
- An ordinance aimed at pawn shops and other second-hand dealers that allowed police to better track stolen items.
- A new system to allow online bidding for surplus city-owned property such as vehicles, office equipment and machinery.
- A crackdown on derelict properties that included liens being placed on seven such properties.
- The hiring of 18 new city employees, including a communications director and public works director. The city also promoted Nikki Messenger from public works director to city manager.
- The issuance of 160 commercial building permits, which carried an overall value of nearly $34 million.
- The continuing effort to clean up illegal campsites. The city spent over $15,000 on 46 total camp cleanups at 26 different locations.
- The reopening of the downtown library, which just celebrated its one year anniversary. In that first year, more than 5,000 library cards were issued, 8,000 items were checked out and 8,500 visitors attended children’s events. Much of the success of the library is due to the 50 volunteers who work the main desk, in the children’s room and stocking the shelves.
- The work of the fire and police departments to help residents deal with the snowstorm in February. The fire department also provided firefighters and equipment to help battle the Milepost 97 wildfire.
- A new mobile crisis program that pairs local mental health experts with police to better deal with individuals who may have mental health issues. The mental health professionals respond to situations along with police and connect individuals to treatment, while often diverting them from the criminal justice system.
- The efforts to partner with George Fox University and open a medical college in Roseburg.
Rich ended his address with a quote from John F. Kennedy: “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Also on Monday, the council began the process to replace former Councilor Tom Ryan.
Ryan sent a letter to the mayor in mid-December indicating his intent to leave the council as of Jan. 1. Ryan, who served for nearly 20 years on the council, left the board just about a year after he was reelected and with three years left to his term. He said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and travel.
On Monday, the City Council accepted Ryan’s resignation and will now turn toward choosing his successor for Ward 2. Councilors will interview candidates and then make their selection, likely in February.
Whoever is appointed will serve until Dec. 31, 2020. An election will determine who will serve the remainder of Ryan’s term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2022.
The council chose Bob Cotterell to replace Ryan as council president.
CITY GOALSOne of the first achievements of the Roseburg City Council in 2020 was formally adopting a set of six goals for 2020-21. Those goals are:
1. Develop and implement policies to enhance housing opportunities.
2. Implement transportation funding policies to meet identified community needs.
3. Enhance community livability and public safety.
4. Take a proactive role in community economic development and revitalization.
5. Update and implement the city’s emergency preparedness plan.
6. Explore strategies to address issues related to unhoused individuals within the community.
OTHER ACTIONSIn other action Monday, the City Council also:
- Reappointed Mickey Beach and Misty Ross to the Economic Development Commission. Accepted the resignation of Tim Allen from the same commission.
- Accepted the resignations of Nick Marshall and Kenneth Fazio from the Budget Committee.
- Reappointed the following advisory board members: Clint Newell to the Airport Commission; Nicholas Lehrbach to the Historic Resources Review Commission; Marcia Belzner and Francesca Guyer to the Library Commission; Kyle Bailey, Robert Grubbs and Leila Heislein to the Parks and Recreation Commission; Noel Groshong, Vernon Munion and John Seward to the Public Works Commission.
- Introduced Brice Perkins as the new Public Works Director.