Live chat with Mayor Ron Onslow

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Mayor of Ridgefield, Ron Onslow, joined Columbian.com readers Fri. Mar. 23. The hour-long chat covered questions residents had about new developments to downtown and suggestions for new improvements.

Join us next week when we chat with downtown Vancouver art galleries including North Bank Art Gallery, Aurora Fine Art & Custom Framing and Angst. We will discuss the First Friday art walk and what kind of art and exhibits that these galleries will be holding in the upcoming months.

Onslow Live Chat Transcript Fri. Mar. 23, 2012:

Setareh Alizadeh: Welcome everyone to today’s live chat. Mayor of Ridgefield Ron Onslow will be joining us shortly. Send in your questions and comments and be the first to chat with the Mayor…To our readers, keep sending in your questions and comments!

Ron Onslow: Thanks...hopefully my Wi-Fi will stay connected!

Setareh Alizadeh: Lets hope!, you can call me if anything goes wrong

Comment From Kathy Winters: Hi

Ron Onslow: good morning!

Setareh Alizadeh: Hi Kathy!

Comment From Dan Kallem: In that world oil production may have peaked, and with it fossil-fuel-driven economic growth, to what extent has sustainable development and even more importantly, a sustainable economy become part of the conversation about the City and its future? What are our economic development plans for when gas is above $6 a gallon?

Dan Kallem: Hello and thanks to Ron and the Columbian!!

Setareh Alizadeh: Hello and Good Morning Dan. Thank you for starting us off with some questions

Ron Onslow: gosh....I feel like that the question for the president!

as for Ridgefield, we have not discussed $6- gas prices but have been researching fuel efficient cars & trucks.

Ron Onslow: We do have a Natural Gas aficionado person on the council too.

Setareh Alizadeh: I would like to introduce Ridgefield’s new blogger, Kathy Winters.

Kathy Winters: Ron - you always have lots of ideas for things to improve in Ridgefield. What are you currently working on?

Libby Clark: You can find Kathy's blog on Columbian.com at http://www.columbian.com/weblogs/fyi98642/ or on her website http://fyi98642.com/

Ron Onslow: well lets see....opening up City Hall (interior) for better customer service, working on design for the new round-abouts, new fireplace in Abrams Park, trying to start a mentor program in the High School, a visitation program for all business......

Kathy Winters: Thanks Libby!

Libby Clark: Ron, you said you're researching efficient cars and trucks. Are you thinking about replacing the city fleet?

Ron Onslow: No...that would be too difficult at one time...need money! but replacing as needed.

Gordon Oliver: Hello Ron! After I wrote the story about Ridgefield for The Columbian, a commercial real estate broker told me that he saw little chance of attracting major tenants at the Port property downtown. He thinks it's too far from the freeway. Are you more optimistic about redevelopment of that property?

Setareh Alizadeh: Here is article about Ridgefield that Gordon Oliver is refering to; http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/feb/05/ridgefield-city-at-a-crossroad-can-north-county-si/

Ron Onslow: I AM! We believe that the new Port area will help compliment the downtown....plus it will open up a waterway that used to be used for many purposes, now mostly for fishermen and recreational but both those should increases and possibly develop mew markets. In addition we’re hoping some office space will be used. But it will be a long process!

Kathy Winters: Think it's only a matter of time before people realize what a jewel the Ridgefield waterfront port property is. Can you imagine working next to a wildlife sanctuary and being able to walk or ride a bike to work?

Gordon Oliver: Something else I noticed about downtown Ridgefield is the poor condition of some of the streets. I love your beautiful downtown, but what are your plans for financing infrastructure improvements?

Ron Onslow: To start....South Main (in poor shape to say the least) is on the docket to be replaced this summer in conjunction with the building of the new Overlook Park.

Where the heavy trucks have been bringing in fill from the Junction for the Port...those roads will be repaired. And we have started (last year) a 2% utility fund that will go directly to street repair. Will take a while, but there will be progress!

Gordon Oliver: That's good news.

Harry Smith: Hi Ron! With all the beautiful open space there is in your area, do think the city can find a way to create an off-leash dog park... different then the sports complex facility?

Ron Onslow: We have been talking about that quite a bit. We are in the process of making an offer on some more park property and that could be used in an interim as well as asking some private individuals for permission to possibly put in a temporary one till some of the new Park property is developed (with a plan)

Dan Kallem: Are the Port and the City's waterfront development plans still on track then, and to what extent are these plans dependent on state or federal dollars to have happen?

Ron Onslow: The development plans are still on track, a development agreement will be forthcoming in the near future, and both the Port and City are working on getting federal/state funding for the new overpass that will connect the port with the downtown. Other than that, the most of the dollars will be from the port and 'selling' their plans.

Becky Hill: Thanks Mayor Ron for taking part in this modern use of technology! I just wish there were more folks participating. This is a great informal way for folks to communicate ideas and get involved. Maybe something the city could look into doing more often?

Setareh Alizadeh: As for The Columbian's side, we run a live chat every Friday. I am always open to suggestions for topics of the week. You can email me at Setareh.Alizadeh@columbian.com

Ron Onslow: I agree! I really know very little about these new techs but think that is what we (and every city) needs to do to get the info out to all our citizens. I have worked on that premise for a couple of years, and I believe that we will be moving forward with some new things soon. I really love what Kathy Winters has done. I wanted that early on from the city but Kathy had really stepped up for us!

Dan Kallem: Very good, what sort of businesses do City leaders picture occupying this development eventually? ... If we're done. then thanks Ron! You are a terrific mayor for Ridgefield to have! Thanx to the Columbian too...

Setareh Alizadeh: Thank you Dan.

Ron Onslow: Are we done? Dan...we should have you come out to one of our open houses on the port....mixed use I guess you might say...with some hope for investment in education and research

Harry Smith: Ron, recognizing the great family friendly area you live in, I believe it would be a great venue for Folk Music. Do you think you could investigate with your staff to see if they could create an event like the Rhode Island Newport Folk Festival (http://www.newportfolkfest.net/)?

Ron Onslow: I think that you should help us on that! WE do run the blue grass/ refuge festival which is great but maybe we could expand on that

Dan Kallem: Yes, I have a couple of these, Ron, and I'm encouraged, but I need to reconnect and see the latest!

Kathy Winters: Ron - you might want to mention the City's QA connection, where businesses can sign up for a spot on the city's website. Some people may not know about it.

Harry Smith: Okay. I am familiar with 2 or 3 local artists that are nationally recognized. I will contact you this week with some ideas.

Ron Onslow: Yes! The city sponsors a website....connected to the city's site that is free for all businesses that have a Bus license in Ridgefield. One can change it regularly with coupons, ads, etc. as they wish....it’s a great way to connect with our citizens and let them know what’s up in their business.

Dan Kallem: Harry's idea is great and one that makes a lot of sense (goes with the wine industry, for instance), especially since some of us here do not really want to become much "like" Wilsonville or Hillsboro. How about we grow in a new, more sustainable way?

Ron Onslow: Harry...you need to look at moving to Ridgefield and you'd make a great promoter!

Harry Smith: I'll talk to my wife!

Ron Onslow: I really believe that we (Ridgefield) needs to grow sustainably and it seems to be a slow process but I guess one step at a time! (not my way) I prefer to move faster and get ‘er done!

Setareh Alizadeh: Mark Eaton ask: Hello Ron, you mentioned that the city is working on design for the new round-abouts, when does this project go to bid and construction slated for?

Ron Onslow: The two new roundabouts are part of the new overpass. They have been out to bid....Nutter was the low bidder, the state is now checking over the bids to make sure everything is 'copasetic' and they should start soon. The design is done except for the aesthetics on the middle. We would like to have some really nice centers as they will be the 'entrance' to Ridgefield in both directions. Work should start late spring (if we ever get a real spring!)

Mark Eaton: Ron you mentioned a visitation program for all business, could you elaborate please

Ron Onslow: I am going to set up a schedule for myself and I will - along with another councilman - visit a different business every week (if possible). EX: I would visit you and ask if there are any problems?, do you need anything that the city can help with?, what type of business would compliment yours?, do you know of anyone who is looking for possible locations? etc....you get the idea.

Becky Hill: Ron, is Kathy staff or volunteer. Sorry, I am not familiar. Is she a great resource for expanding and connecting the city with its citizens?

Ron Onslow: Kathy is not staff. She started out small with emails every week....got to over 700 so went with the new blog...she can probably tell you better, but now everyone uses her blog to 'get the word out' She is ABSLOLUTLY A GREAT RESOURCE FOR the connection!

Setareh Alizadeh: Some comments I received while visiting downtown Ridgefield this week were all positive and loved the work you are doing Ron. Bob Ford from Bob's automotive told me how great of a Mayor you are and how responsive you are to the town. It was refreshing to hear so many good things about you!

Setareh Alizadeh: You can find Kathy's blog on Columbian.com at http://www.columbian.com/weblogs/fyi98642/ or on her website http://fyi98642.com/

Setareh Alizadeh: With the remaining few minutes, send any last minute comments or questions to Ron!

Ron Onslow: =) Thank YOU! I love this small city and the people in it! It is not hard to be enthusiastic about it. One of my favorite sayings is " Ridgefield: the way life should be"!

Harry Smith: And a Mayor... the way politicians should be!

Ron Onslow: I still think you should be a politician too!

Setareh Alizadeh: Thank you very much Ron for joining us today!

Ron Onslow: My pleasure!

Setareh Alizadeh: And thank you to our all of readers and Ridgefield residents who participated today!

Setareh Alizadeh: Hope everyone joins us next Friday at 12:30pm where we will have downtown Vancouver's art galleries to discuss what will be happening for First Friday, and their new exhibits! … Thank you again Ron! until next time, I hope everyone has a great Friday and a wonderful weekend =)