At the Aug. 18 King City City Council meeting, the hot topic was the political upheaval concerning the possible extension of Fischer Road through the city’s 528-acre urban-growth expansion area between the current city limits and Roy Rogers Road.
City Manager Mike Weston referred to it as “a line on a map and a connection that won’t happen for 20 years,” but for those living in the unincorporated part of Washington County that will become the future master-planned community of Kingston Terrace, that line is their line in the sand.
While the city’s adoption of the Kingston Terrace Master Plan and Transportation System Plan are many months away, those opposed to the proposed Fischer Road route that would bisect existing neighborhoods and long-established communities are hard at work pressing city officials to come up with what they consider better and more environmentally friendly options.
Unfortunately, some folks opposed to the Fischer Road proposal have escalated their tactics to include vandalism and what City Council President Jaimie Fender called “a palpable escalation of discord and hyperbole.”
At the council meeting, she read a prepared statement that cited the following incidents: a personal verbal attack directed at Weston in front of his children in Community Park; spray-painting “No Fisher Road” (misspelled) across Mayor Ken Gibson’s garage; and the deliberate sabotaging of a community event.
Fender said she created the Aug. 10 “sno-cone in the park” community event to “figuratively and literally cool down” and provide an opportunity to come together as a community to show support for the mayor after the vandalism incident and also make the event a fundraiser for Deer Creek Elementary School.
Fender said a small group came “to cause friction around the very subject that is tearing us apart. Some people came to scream and shout… Some came and were so disappointed in what they saw (that) they had to leave because some yelled profanity. They swore in front of my 5- and 8-year-old children as well as all of the other children in attendance…
“Instead of telling the mayor that there is no place for vandalism in our city, a woman shouted, ‘You aren’t a real mayor.’”
Fender, who like Gibson, lives in Edgewater, said they are both considering installing security cameras at their homes. She added that “growth is inevitable,” “the master-planning process exists in order to plan for and control growth,” and “we will not be stealing land or forcing people to sell.”
Dozens of residents across the city have posted “No Fischer Road Extension” yard signs, and a group called Citizens Against Fischer Extension gathered more than 1,000 signatures opposing the plan.
One of the opponents of the Fischer Road extension is Mike Meyer, whose land would be negatively impacted by the project. At the council meeting, Meyer, whose great-great-grandfather purchased land along the Tualatin River where Meyer and members of his family still live today, also read a prepared statement.
He listed a series of canceled meetings, delayed deadlines, and other incidents hindering the planning process, adding, “Communication is not one direction and needs to be more than glossy presentations of concepts from a consultant. The plan needs to be the best plan and not a worst-case scenario plan as Mike Weston suggests. The plan shouldn’t be minimized by the one-liners of ‘just lines on a map’ and ‘it’s 20 years down the road.’”
Gary Woods, who lives on Fischer Road, said he had contacted City Hall with questions about the plan and was told to read the documents on the website. He said he had sent emails to city officials as had the Edgewater homeowners’ association and 70-plus-year-old Rivermeade community, “and there has been no acknowledgment from the city.”
He added, “Is it possible the City Council could acknowledge us? Our views should count. We do not feel heard.”
Fender said that a lot of misinformation is circulating and added, “A number of people feel terrified and panicked because they think Fischer Road is ready to be bulldozed.”
Weston cautioned that “there are so many other pieces (besides the fate of Fischer Road) that have to be resolved. It is a daunting task that takes a lot of patience from us and from the community.”
Also at the meeting, City Councilor Kate Mohr said, “I’m sorry people in our community are so frustrated that this kind of (aggressive) behavior comes out… Please be patient. We are representing the people of King City even if you don’t think we are. We are committed to doing what needs to be done for this city.”
Mohr added that the City Council is not the enemy and advised those who are protesting the development plans to “be honest and tell the truth if you want to work with us.”
Weston reminded everyone that “we’re building an urban city, and people are griping about one road connection when there are many road connections.” He said the focus should be on all the possibilities available in the new area.