Banks City Hall. Photo: Brenda Schaffer

The Banks city council voted to extend the city’s development moratorium, adopted a work plan for the 2021- 2022 fiscal year, and adopted a number of more routine items at the city council meeting held March 9. 

The city of Banks development moratorium will continue after councilors voted to extend it another six months, the fourth such extension. The Banks city council originally adopted the moratorium, which restricts most new development in the city in the face of a dwindling and faulty water supply, on December 11, 2018. While measures are in place to reduce water and replace the main water transmission line, that project is not expected to be complete until 2022. 

The council also adopted a work plan to guide their actions in the coming fiscal year of 2021 - 2022. The work plan calls for a number of projects to be started or worked on throughout the year, drawing from existing city plans — the Banks Vision 2037 Plan, the City of Banks Roadmap (2018 to 2023), and more — and community input. It builds on many ideas from the prior year’s work plan. 

Audio from Tuesday's meeting can be found on the city of Banks website.

Mission statement 

The Banks City Council work plan’s mission statement says elected and administrative officials will strive to effectively manage resources while continuing to enrich the community, provide long-term stability, sustainable growth, and ample community services while maintaining environmental responsibility and providing a clean, safe community where people feel comfortable living. 

2037 vision plan

The council work plan also includes the “Banks Vision 2037 Plan,” which are six recommendations originally put forth in 2017.

The six points include recognizing and building three districts within Banks — Southtown, Midtown, and the traditional/historic Downtown. Commerce Street and the Mill District could be considered a sub-district of downtown, the plan says.

Creating new upgrades to streetscapes so the three Main Street districts display uniformity, yet with subtle differences that are unique to each area.  

Constructing a new multi-use public plaza for use by community members and visitors/tourists, preferably connecting Main Street to the new developable lands in the Westside urban growth boundary.

Continuing to promote Banks as an emerging community rich with recreational opportunities, including an abundance of trailheads, support areas, and the creation of new trailheads. 

Finally, the plan calls for setting and codifying new standards, specific to each district, for commercial and industrial structures and developments, in order to create quality and to appropriate a rural feel within the individual development areas.

2018 to 2023 roadmap

The city of Banks has four goals in its future objectives roadmap. Those objectives are:

-- Adequate Housing — Developing a clear plan and system for providing water infrastructure to support new development; providing a flexible code and process to encourage various housing types; and proactively collaborating with private developers. This goal has been stymied by the city’s struggles with a leaky transmission line, but could be alleviated by late 2022 with the expected compilation of the transmission line replacement project. 

-- Local Jobs — Enhancing access to broadband infrastructure; focusing on the Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program; and preparing local industrial sites.

-- Vibrant Main Street — Enhancing existing businesses along Main Street; maximizing the use of existing parking areas; and growing the retail base to meet the needs of tourists and residents. 

-- Thriving Tourism — Proactively pursuing the Main Street Plaza project, and supporting tourist amenity development. As yet, Banks does not have developed overnight stay options, relying instead on visitors to stay overnight in neighboring towns, at local campgrounds such as Stub Stewart State Park, or in short-term rentals offered through platforms such as Airbnb. 

New trailhead parking

The council work plan outlines two projects that focus on consistent development and expansion within the city of Banks and its urban growth boundary — additional parking for the Banks-Vernonia Trailhead, and the construction of a community center. 

Additional parking for the Banks-Vernonia Trailhead is spearheaded by the Banks City Council, the Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation (LUT), the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency, and Oregon State Parks and Recreation.  

The city, since 2017, actively has been attempting to create new parking around the trailhead as use has grown in popularity. Work was underway in 2017 to improve overflow in the parking area but construction was stopped when the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) said a 100-foot buffer was required between the railroad tracks and the driveway.

The council’s work plan says currently the cost of the project is unknown, but that the funding source likely would come from general funds, grants, and state park coffers.

Building a Banks community center

This project is part of the city’s Urban Renewal Agency (URA) plans and the Banks Vision 2037 Plan. Its main goals are to research different options, identify land where the community center will be built, and to secure long-term funding from the URA.

Those leading the project to create a Banks community center include the city council, the URA, the Banks Economic Development Commission, and city staff.

The cost of the project depends on the actual size, scope, and extent of the community center’s structures, but the plan set an estimate of between $4 and $7 million. Planned funding sources include private investment for building structures and city of Banks/URA funds for a public right-of-way plaza and the necessary infrastructure.

Traffic Calming

The city is planning to research a number of options to slow or “calm” traffic within neighborhoods in Banks, including installing radar feedback signs and flashing stop signs, reducing speed limits from 25 mph to 20 mph, and working with deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to identify problem areas. 

Emergency preparedness

The city plans to continue refining the city’s Emergency Resource Plan, and participate in the Cascadia Rising Exercise in 2022.

Laserfiche

The city has many official documents that are paper-based and not electronic. Additionally, the city has several areas where paper documents are stored, including copies of documents that pertain to more than one department. 

The city wants to transfer those documents to Laserfiche, which is similar to microfiche used by libraries across Oregon and the U.S., but Laserfiche is a privately-owned software development company that creates records management. 

According to FinancesOnline.com, which provides reviews of tech products similar to the product reviews provided by ConsumerReports.org, Laserfiche pricing is based on a per-user, per-month basis, and typically runs $60-per-month per user, or $54-per-month if paid annually. 

Community services   

Finally, the city’s work plan calls for projects that provide new events and opportunities. 

Park improvements top the list of community services. They would include creating a basketball court, a covered area, a concrete extension, and additional playground equipment. An effort to secure funding for Greenville Park projects from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Oregon Local Government Grant Program did not pan out. 

“[The] Oregon Local Government Grant Program received several projects through this grant application,” city manager Jolynn Becker said in an email to the Banks Post. “The grant committee reviewed and rated all submitted projects.  There was around 4 million dollars in grant funds available, and it was awarded to the top 7 projects. Unfortunately, the City of Banks was not in the top 7.”

According to documents obtained by a public records request, the city had asked for $260,000 to fund improvements to Greenville Park, but will have to secure funding elsewhere to move the project forward. 

In addition to the park improvements, the city also planned a series of  community events, but those events remain in question due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s community events calendar is available for viewing on its website

The Banks City Council’s 2021-22 work plan can be read here