Sunday, October 15, 2017

6th early unfinished version

Suggestions or corrections
happily accepted.

Help improve the City of Ridgefield.

by Michael Jennings,
Futurepower ®, Inc.

I'm interested in helping support the
wonderful sense of community in Ridgefield.

Note: The author of this article is merely collecting information. Some of the information may be in error, or may lack sufficient detail. More about the author

3 of the many areas of interest
in helping improve Ridgefield:

Ridgefield plans to build a new library. Where should it be located? How do we design it? Managers of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system, FVRL, have told the author of this article only they should have control of the architecture of the new library. They said they plan to hire an architectural firm they have already chosen.

FVRL has issued what it calls a “Memorandum of Understanding” that appears to be an attempt to gain more legal control over all of the Friends of the Library volunteer organizations.

See the library section.

Apartments buildings on the flood plain? The Port of Ridgefield is planning on building tall apartment buildings on the flood plain below downtown Ridgefield. That would change the atmosphere of the City of Ridgefield.

How can we improve the look of downtown Ridgefield? Some have said to paint the buildings. Others have suggested adopting an architectural theme.


At present, it is in many areas difficult to understand what is happening in Ridgefield because the information available to the public is scattered and not easy to discover. Easy access to information will help everyone understand.

Let's work together to develop a document that helps everyone understand the underlying details of improving both the City of Ridgefield in Washington state and the larger area, also called Ridgefield.

Eventually, parts of this document could be used or modified by official Ridgefield agencies to help new Ridgefield residents understand their city.

Although the author of this article has talked with top-level staff, they are not named here. That is an attempt to avoid confusion over top-level issues caused by discussion of personal differences.

The focus is on helping everyone be more clear about top-level issues. As was mentioned above, the author of this article is merely collecting information. He does not have any power over anything mentioned here.

Thought Freedom

At the beginning of any project there should be a period of what the author of this article calls Thought Freedom. Anyone can put forward any idea. Later, when we have found some shared logic, new ideas should generally respect and contribute to that shared logic.

Help design a new
Ridgefield library.

Who should have control over
the design of the new library?

As was mentioned above, managers of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system, FVRL, have told the author of this article that only they should have control of the architecture of the new library. They have said that they plan to hire an architectural firm they have already chosen.

The author of this article has more than 40 years experience in helping companies with technology. It is common that managers don't recognize the need for careful understanding of detail in some area they haven't studied extensively.

FVRL library managers can certainly help with the design of the new Ridgefield library. First, however, there are many details that must be decided by people concerned with the design of all of Ridgefield City, and the area around the city, also called Ridgefield.

The design of architecture raises extremely complicated and demanding questions.

Ridgefield city managers have indicated that they find some of the positions taken by FVRL staff unacceptable. The intent of including this information is to help everyone involved reach conclusions that all consider acceptable.

If a new library is poorly designed, and there is a general agreement about the design failure, that could affect the employment of those who made the mistakes. So everyone should be especially careful.

FVRL wants the Friends of the Library
volunteer organizations to sign a document
that would give FVRL more control.

FVRL calls the document a “Memorandum of Understanding”, but it is a legal contract. That document is apparently not available online. This scanned copy of the memorandum has objections written by an RFOL member. (PDF file)

The author of this article has been told that the contract requires considerable revision, partly because the effects of the contract aren't clear.

There are good reasons for FVRL to have a more clear involvement with the Friends of the Library volunteer organizations. The volunteers represent the libraries; the reputation of FVRL is partly dependent on the actions of the volunteers.

Here are a few of the parts of the contract to which there are, at present, Oct. 15, 2017, objections. Not all parts that may need revision are included here:

Article 1, Scope of Service
  • “3. The FRIENDS shall raise monies to be spent for FVRL programs and services. That term of the contract would allow FVRL to spend money raised by the Ridgefield Friends of the Library for purposes other than those that benefit the Ridgefield Library.

  • “4. The FRIENDS will operate under written and maintained by-laws. That term of the contract says that FOL volunteer organization agrees now to operate under restrictions that may be changed in the future.

    That term is probably not legal, since no one can agree to a contract without knowing the terms of the contract.

  • “5. The FRIENDS will be comprised of volunteers, distinct and separate from FVRL personnel.” That term of the contract apparently is intended to eliminate library staff from helping Friends of the Library volunteer organizations.

    Ridgefield Library manager Sean McGill is extremely helpful to all organizations that help the Ridgefield Library and operate library events. That term of the contract seems to eliminate his helping. It seems doubtful that meaning in intended.
Article 2, Term
    “This agreement shall be in effect for five (5) years from the date of approval by the FVRL Board of Trustees and will automatically renew for an additional term of five (5) years unless any party notifies others, no later than ninety (90) days prior to the expiration, of its decision to terminate the agreement.”

    If for some reason a Friends of the Library volunteer organization objects to some aspect of FVRL management, the FOL organization will still be bound by the FVRL contract, until the 5-year contract is ended.

    If an FOL organization objects to FVRL management after 4 years and 9 months of a 5-year contract, the objection will be invalid, and a new 5-year contract will take effect.

    Article 9, Third Party Beneficiaries

    “This Agreement is for the benefit of the FRIENDS and FVRL. No third party is an intended beneficiary so as to entitle that person to sue for an alleged breach of Agreement. The FRIENDS acknowledge and agree that they are acting as an independent contractor in performing any obligations hereunder and not as an agent or employee of FVRL.”

    “The FRIENDS acknowledge and agree that they are acting as an independent contractor...” It is obvious that that term of the contract is intended to further limit the rights of FOL members, but it would be necessary to study contract law to understand the extent of the limits.

    If you are a volunteer for a Friends of the Library organization, do you want to be considered a “contractor”?

    The second sentence also limits rights in a way that is not immediately obvious: “No third party is an intended beneficiary so as to entitle that person to sue for an alleged breach of Agreement.”

    Dominance is a common fault.

    Often when someone is uncertain about how to manage, that person will decide that dominance will make managing easier.

    Complicated legal contracts are common.

    Most people don't read contracts, or don't know how to read contracts. One way of achieving unhealthy control is to write a long contract with murky legal language, and get people to “agree” because they want to move forward and don't know what else to do.

    One example: The contract for using Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system: Windows 10 is possibly the worst spyware ever made. Quote: "Buried in the service agreement is permission to poke through everything on your PC."

    How can the City of Ridgefield
    arrange a better system of
    volunteering that doesn't promote
    outside control?

    Possibly the City of Ridgefield could start its own non-profit organization. Volunteer organizations could operate under that legal umbrella, if they chose.

    Funding at present:
    Approximately $160,000 or $180,000 ?
    raised by the
    Ridgefield Friends of the Library volunteers.

    Most of the money at present, September 2017, available to build the new library came from the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system: Imagine Ridgefield Community Library. Quote: “FVRL Trustees have set aside $1 million for the building project.” Apparently an amount of up to $1 million will be available from a donor who will match contributions of $10,000 or more.

    One estimate is that a new library will cost $4.5 million. At present, the total funds are, according to the sign, about $1.45 million. The photo below is of a sign on the front of the Ridgefield Library. (Photo taken Sept. 14, 2017.)


    I was told that Ridgefield Friends of the Library has raised about $160,000 or $180,000. What accounts for the difference between that and the additional money that makes the total approximately $450,000 shown on the sign is not clear.

    Apparently, knowing that most of the money was “set aside” by FVRL Trustees helps us understand the rate at which the Ridgefield Friends of the Library has collected money. At that rate, when will the goal of raising $4.5 million be reached? No one with whom I've talked has yet suggested a date.

    The Friends of Ridgefield Community Library is an organization of volunteers. Their web site does not seem to list total funds collected.

    There appears to be a lack of easily discovered information about the finances of building a library for $4.5 million. The author of this article has not yet found anyone who can supply a full explanation.

    The new library must contribute to the design of Ridgefield.
    Designing a library and a city is a huge intellectual challenge.

    Where should the
    new library be located?

    There are few areas available in downtown Ridgefield big enough for the new library. No decisions have been made as of the date of this article.

    At present, there are 2 main suggestions for the location, 1 and 2 below. Both of those locations require the majority of people to drive on Pioneer Avenue.
    1. On a recreation field   Near View Ridge Middle School, at 510 Pioneer Street. That location has a recreation field that is available because the school has moved. The field is the present choice of Fort Vancouver Regional Library, FVRL, local library system managers.

      1. A large area
      2. Near the Union Ridge Elementary School,
      3. It would be possible to make a path from the new library to Abrams Park, the largest park in the region, and a place where students are taught sports.

      1. The new library would no longer be close to the post office.
      2. The new library would not connect people as much with downtown businesses as would a library on N Main Avenue.

    2. Main street   On property owned by the City of Ridgefield, at N Main Ave and W Division Street.

      1. Beautiful view: Overlooks the Ridgefield Wildlife Reserve and the mountains farther west.
      2. Would bring people downtown to N Main Avenue.
      3. Already owned by the city.

      1. The space already owned by the city is not large enough, many people say.

    3. Main street, including the land on which the present Post Office is located   A Ridgefield Post Office staff member told me that, when there are 2,000 more homes in Ridgefield, the Post Office will need to be larger because of the increased customer demand. When that growth happens, the present Post Office building could be moved somewhere else.

      The space would then allow a 6-story building. Both the library and the post office could be put on the 1st floor. Offices could be on the 2nd to 4th floors and apartments on the 5th and 6th floors, following the idea of having offices and residences near each other to reduce automobile traffic.

      1. The view would be wonderful. This idea makes use of the true value of the land. Visitors to the library would have a beautiful view.
      2. The company which owns the land on which the Post Office is now located would benefit.

      1. There would be office and apartment parking underneath the 1st floor. Parking underneath a building is expensive.
      2. It would expensive to move the present Post Office building to a new location, and find a new use for the building.

    4. Other ideas?

    Ridgefield Library

    These organizations are involved with Ridgefield Library.
    1. Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, FVRL, is the local library system. It administers libraries in “Clark County (with the exception of the city of Camas), Skamania and Klickitat Counties, and the city of Woodland in Cowlitz County”, an area of “4,200 square miles”.

    2. Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation

    3. Ridgefield Community Library (Local library system page)
      Ridgefield Community Library (Facebook link)

    4. Friends of Ridgefield Community Library is an organization of volunteers. Part of their work is raising money for a new library.

    What ideas can we contribute
    to the design of the
    City of Ridgefield?

    Fastest growing city in Washington   The city of Ridgefield was said to be the 7th fastest-growing populated area in the state of Washington in a May 25, 2016 report. This earlier article in The Columbian newspaper, Ridgefield the fastest-growing city in Washington (May 21, 2015) doesn't say how that information was gathered. However, considering that the growth rate in Ridgefield has increased rapidly in the last 2 years, and the May 25, 2016 report used earlier information, it seems likely that Ridgefield really is the fastest-growing city in Washington state.

    There has been little progress toward the design of a new library for Ridgefield. FFA Architecture and Interiors, a Portland contractor, published Building Pre-Design information in October 2014. (PDF file) That report gives only very general information about new libraries for the cities of Ridgefield, Washougal, and Woodland.

    Land in Ridgefield is prime real estate. Building a new library in Ridgefield is different from building in other cities in Clark County. The exceptionally good city management of Ridgefield and beautiful area has made land in Ridgefield much more valuable.

    Avoiding traffic jams:
    One area of city design

    One important, underlying goal: Avoid heavy traffic. How can Ridgefield avoid the huge failures in Portland, Oregon and Seattle? Both of those cities have constant traffic jams and the extreme pollution that comes from slow traffic.

    To avoid traffic, houses must be close to jobs. Why aren't cities designed to have jobs close to residences? After months of investigation of the traffic in Portland, I came to the conclusion that real estate developers have control over Portland City management, and real estate developers want constant traffic jams.

    Real estate developers make more money if the traffic is terrible. That's because the jobs are concentrated downtown and people are willing to pay more for a place to live if it's close to their jobs. People don't like to spend large parts of their lives driving to and from work. A half-hour drive to work and a half-hour drive from work is 240 extra hours each year. That’s the equivalent of 6 extra work weeks of unpleasant, expensive, and sometimes dangerous driving in heavy traffic, unpaid.

    The value of real estate developers own close to jobs goes up as the traffic increases. If real estate developers have control over city government some of them will do things that are bad for everyone else.

    I wrote an article about that, Portland, Oregon insufficient city management: Real estate developers want constant traffic. (PDF file) I presented the article at a Portland City Council meeting. There was no reply.

    Ridgefield has, or will have, jobs close to residences. That reduces traffic. Here are 4 examples of new jobs:
    1. The new Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Region 5 HQ Building had a Grand Opening on July 26, 2017.

    2. I was told by someone who works at ICD High Performance Coatings that the company will soon have “10 times” more business. ICD is located east of the I5 freeway, near the freeway and south of Pioneer St., at 7350 South Union Ridge Parkway.

      Web site: ICD High Performance Coatings.

    3. The Vancouver Clinic will build a clinic in Ridgefield on Pioneer St. near I5. See the Columbian newspaper story, Vancouver Clinic footprint growing with Ridgefield location (Nov. 3, 2016 story).

      The photo in that story has no connection with the story itself.

      “Construction of the $6.7 million project is set to begin in 2017, with a completion date in 2018.”
      “Initially, the 10,000-square-foot medical center, which will be at the first roundabout on Pioneer Street, will offer only primary care. The clinic will have eight primary care providers and 16 additional staff members.

      “The medical center will have room to expand to 30,000 square feet and add services based on patient needs.
    4. Clark College at Boschma Farms (PDF file of plans, Oct. 2016) is an expansion of Clark College in Vancouver. Clark College updates new site plan gives details. ()

      Expansion of Clark College may be delayed by the fact that enrollment of students in Clark College is less than before: Clark College may face $1 million deficit ().
    Ridgefield already has problems with traffic. There are traffic problems at the junction of Pioneer St. and S 9th Ave., which becomes S Hillhurst Road. Every school day a policeman directs traffic.

    Pioneer Street is the only main artery. We need a southern I5 interchange. There is a big need for another interchange with the I5 highway south of Pioneer.

    For example, there is an I5 overpass at Carty Road. That could be made into an interchange.

    Another example: NW 209th Street could be improved and widened, and provided with an overpass that would allow access from Hillhurst Road to the Highway 502, I5 interchange. The south end of Hillhurst Rd becomes NW 31st Ave which further south connects with NW 209th Street.

    If there are southern I5 interchanges, people driving from the Hillhurst area south to Vancouver and Portland would not need to use Pioneer and traffic would move faster.

    Northern I5 interchange   There is a northern I5 interchange at NW 319th Street, at the edge of Ridgefield area. However, the area north of Ridgefield City is not yet popular with real estate developers.

    Let's avoid common mistakes.
    1. Co-operate. In discussions of the new library, some people have been repeating their general views without adding new details, giving logical support for their ideas, or answering issues raised by others. We need to cooperate so that we move forward.

    2. We need to avoid common shortcomings of the U.S. culture. Men often feel they have to compete with other men. Women often feel they cannot be strong, imaginative, creative leaders.

    3. People often assume that, if they don't know something, there is nothing to know. In fact, city design is complicated. City design requires hours of thought about hundreds of details.

    4. It's important that we don't assume knowledge of architecture. Architects often make huge and many small mistakes.

      Examples of architectural mistakes:

      1. About 40 Ridgefield residents got together to watch the eclipse at Ridgefield United Methodist Church on Hillhurst Road. I went inside to use the bathroom. The floor shook with every step I took.

      2. The Vancouver Water Resources Education Center was built in 1995 for $3.5 million. There is a large meeting room where we met for the Ridgefield FOL Friends Fair on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The room has so many echoes that it is difficult to understand what is said if you aren't close to the speakers of the sound system.

      3. NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, conducted extensive investigations into the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. NIST found many design mistakes. See, for example, Twin Towers Forensic Investigation Helps Revise Building Codes, Despite Critics (Scientific American, Aug. 31, 2011)

        Quote: “Federal disaster investigators issued 31 recommendations to improve the safety of high-rises and emergency responses.”

    Ridgefield development organizations

    These organizations are connected with local development.
    1. Ridgefield City Government  

    2. Port of Ridgefield   The “Port” has 3 web sites:

      Washington State government law encourages towns and cities to have development agencies called “ports”, even though there may be nothing nearby meeting the normal definition of the English word “port”.

      The Port is planning "Dark Fiber" for cheaper and more reliable fast internet access that is very much needed for businesses and homes. However, no one who works for the Port of Ridgefield has technical knowledge. The author of this article was introduced to someone from another city who has technical experience; he is helping guide the Port of Ridgefield.

    3. Ridgefield Business Association is involved with businesses inside all of the 98642 postal area code, which is much larger than the city of Ridgefield. That organization uses 2 internet addresses for the same web site:, which goes to the above address.
    4. Ridgefield Main Street concerns itself with the development of Main Street of downtown Ridgefield City.

    About the author
    1. I'm interested in helping support the wonderful sense of community in Ridgefield.

    2. I'm collecting information from everyone about the design of the City of Ridgefield, the area called Ridgefield, and the planned new library.

      Please give me any information not already presented here. There is a big need for more detail.

    3. I hope to help us find shared logic.

    4. I have NO power over anything involving Downtown Ridgefield or the Ridgefield Library.

    5. I don't want any power. When merely collecting ideas from everyone, that is an advantage.

    6. Anyone is welcome to disregard, or disagree with, anything here.

    7. If there are mistakes here, please inform me.

    8. To anyone who has objections to what is included here: Let's work together to help everyone understand your ideas.

    9. It's common at the beginning of trying to find shared logic that there is a lack of sufficient information.

    10. My observations may or may not be correct. Even if not correct, they may help us in our thinking. Sometimes even an incorrect idea can help someone have a good idea.

    11. I'm working as a volunteer. There is no financial or other benefit for me, other than the benefit of eventually living in a improved Ridgefield, and the benefit of helping create an even closer sense of community.

    20th internal version

    Copyright © 2017
    by Michael Jennings,
    Futurepower ®, Inc.
    All rights reserved