In 2013, tensions were running high at the City-owned Hobby Field airport. A lawsuit had been brought against the City and many months were spent trying to negotiate a settlement. The Register-Guard reported in their Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 edition that ”the long dispute between the city and a local parachuting business appears to be on a glide path toward final resolution.” By January 2014 an out-of-court settlement was reached and by August skydiving had returned to the airport.
Five years later, skydiving continues at Hobby Field! There is a new sign visible to I-5 travelers proudly announcing the Creswell Airport. An Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) has been installed and is operational, grants are being applied for to build additional hangars, install restrooms and purchase an emergency generator so the airport can become our Emergency Operations Center in case of a natural disaster.
In 2017, we spent many months developing a long-range vision for the airport. The Creswell Airport is on the right path to success. Last year, Creswell hosted the Oregon Airport Managers Association Fall Conference and our airport manager, Shelley Humble, is currently the president of the Oregon Airport Management Association. Hobby Field has come a long way since the tension-filled days of 2013!
There were concerns about the financial state of the City five years ago, partly because we were not current on our audits. Under the direction of two interim city administrators, the annual budget timeline and the audits received great attention. Our finance director worked hard, and in 2013 the budget was adopted and the audit was completed on time. In the years since, every audit has been completed and accepted on time. We now begin our audit fieldwork mid-August and the final report is issued before the December timeline.
Last year, Creswell received a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fiscal year 2016-17 from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. And on Jan. 29, less than a month ago, we were notified that we have received the same award again, making the City of Creswell now a two-time winner of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. We have come a long way!
Lack of confidence in City government, Public Safety, Water, Airport and Audits – these were major concerns in 2013. Five years later our finances are in good shape, our water is protected, our police force has grown, our airport is busy, our staff and Council are doing great work and there’s a whole different feel in Creswell.
Along the way, I have appreciated the coverage provided by The Creswell Chronicle. The City needs to be accountable to the citizens, and The Chronicle has done a great job reporting on the work being done. We have a constructive relationship with the Chronicle, something that was lacking five years ago. Scott and Erin have spent many hours in these Council chambers listening, taking notes, shooting pictures and asking questions so that they could let the people of Creswell know what their elected officials and city staff were doing. Thank you!
I’d like us to think about the coming five years, but before we do let me highlight a few accomplishments from the last 12 months. In 2017 the Council reviewed and updated the Strategic Plan. Adopted in 2016, the Strategic Plan guides our work.
Here are some of the objectives completed last year:
Increased community use of the Cobalt Building. 2018 marks five years since the Food Pantry moved into the building. In addition to the Pantry, there is an after-school program, exercise classes are offered and a commercial kitchen is in the planning and grant-writing stage.
A new Wastewater Facilities Master Plan was completed, accepted by the DEQ and adopted by the Council.
Along with an outdoor summer movie program, the City now offers a winter movie program.
A first-ever Creswell Code Enforcement manual was developed and adopted.
The water reservoirs on Creswell Butte were completely repainted.
Steady progress was made on the Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Master Plan and Water Master Plan.
The decision was made to begin giving councilors and the mayor a monthly stipend in appreciation for their many hours of service.
Nine young people graduated from the Teen CERT program, trained by South Lane County Fire & Rescue and are ready to respond in a crisis.
New street lights will soon be installed on Niblock Road. Our high school and a newer residential district are accessed by Niblock Rd. and there are no street lights on this county road. Last year Councilor Richard Zetterval brought this to the attention of the Council. Thanks to some very generous donations, Councilor Zetterval’s unflagging efforts and partnership between EWEB, Lane County, the Creswell School District and the City of Creswell, five street lights will be installed by early April.
Discussion began in 2016 and the decision was made in 2017 to surplus the Old Schoolhouse. This treasured part of our history will now be restored and become a vibrant part of our future. Later this evening (Feb. 12) the Council will be voting to transfer the Old Schoolhouse to the Creswell Heritage Foundation.
What’s in store for the next five years? Where might we be in 2023? Here’s what I’m personally hoping for:
Parks: In five years I hope we have more parks in Creswell and I hope that the 57-acre Cinderella Park east of town is owned by the City and providing new opportunities for recreation to our citizens.
Preparedness: I hope that by 2023 every home and business in Creswell will be ready for a natural disaster. We cannot depend on local, county, state or federal agencies to provide our every need; every family and every business must make their own preparations. There are articles in The Chronicle every month on how to get ready, and I’m thrilled that on May 19 the City will host our first Emergency Preparedness Fair at the Cobalt Building.
Public Safety: By 2023 I hope our level of policing is up to five or six full-time deputies. I long for the day when we have 24/7 coverage in Creswell. As Creswell continues to grow, public safety and the level of policing must be addressed again by the City Council.
Housing: Housing needs are changing and I hope that in 2023 there are more options available. We have businesses hiring new employees who cannot find any place to live in Creswell.
Employment: It’s exciting to see new business come to Creswell, like the Creswell Health Mart Pharmacy and the Dollar Store and the tractor supply store in 2018. It’s exciting to see existing business grow, like Wise Woman Herbal. It’s disappointing to see our largest piece of industrial property so underutilized. My hope is that in the next five years the Bald Knob mill site will be teeming with activity and once again offering employment opportunities for Creswellians.
Partnerships: We are stronger together. We partner with our churches on projects like Hope Restored and emergency preparedness. We partner with the Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism. We partner with the Heritage Foundation to restore the Old Schoolhouse. We partner with Creswell First! to provide grants to local organizations. We partner with the Food Pantry to provide sustenance to those in need. And now we are looking to create a new partnership with the School District to provide vocational training opportunities at the Creswell Airport. It is my hope that by 2023 students at Creswell High School can receive aviation-related vocational training by seasoned pilots and mechanics at Creswell’s Hobby Field.
Looking back at Creswell, 2013-2017, it really is true that, ”You will accomplish less than you think in one year, but more than you think in five years.”
Looking forward, I am excited about where we’ll be in January 2023!
When I gave my first State of the City address on Feb. 11, 2013, I said that what makes Creswell truly special are the people living here. That hasn’t changed and I hope it never does. Creswell is a great place to live, to raise a family and to grow old. It is our responsibility, each one of us, to help Creswell live up to its moniker: We are Creswell, The Friendly City!