|Mayor Mark makes Maywood marvelous
THE MID-COUTY MEMO
Mayor Mark Hardie and his wife Mary purchased their home from a former city recorder in 1995, and Mark received the call to civic duty, literally a call from this same city recorder, a couple years after they had settled in with their four boys.
Established and maintained solely by the volunteer efforts of its residents, Maywood Park embodies democracy at its most transparent. Though this grants all 780-some residents a voice, they are also asked to lend a hand. We live in a really unique place that can be influenced positively by the action and passion of any one citizen, said City Council member Marci Marshall. I've heard Mayor Hardie say as much, and I've certainly seen him demonstrate it over the eight years that I've lived in Maywood Park.
Hardie volunteered for mayor after sitting on the City Council for only about a year. I said, 'I think I can do a good job being mayor' , he recalled, and they all said, 'Thank God, you have it.' A lot of people were relieved that I was willing to do it.
Hardie works from home as a regional sales representative for industrial piping products. However, often on the road, covering a region from Alaska to California to Colorado, his job provides him the luxury to maneuver his work schedule around his city responsibilities. I can look at my calendar and know these are the dates where I need to be in town and then I can juggle around the rest, he said.
Like sales, success in government depends on forging and maintaining cooperative relationships. Hardie works closely with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department (with whom Maywood Park contracts their police services), ODOT, and Metro, corresponding mostly through e-mails. I always have my cell phone on so people can call me on evenings and weekends. It lets me adjust things enough where it seems like I can be in all places at all times, he said. It makes it pretty easy, it's not like being the city of Portland or the city of Gresham; I don't envy those jobs at all. They have a lot more things to deal with than we do here.
Portland or Gresham it is not.
Hardie regards Maywood Park more like a family than a municipality, I try to cultivate that thought process as people move in. I say this is your family here, get to know your neighbor and if you need help, talk to somebody because there are people who will come if you need something.
What has always struck me most about Mark is the crystal clear vision he has for our community, and the generosity he has shown in order to make sure that the neighborly values of Maywood Park are protected and passed on, said Marshall.
People who move to Maywood tend to stay, but as the founders gave way to new families, Hardie has been challenged to preserve the quality of life people expect from a Maywood address.
When neighbors reported nuisances, Hardie discovered just how quaint a place he had on his hands. The original residents were all like-minded, he pointed out, so as a city we had nothing in place to regulate any bad behavior.
He has since issued a number of ordinances. Most of them are common sense ordinances equal to or better than ordinances that are in place in every other metropolitan area that you've been to, he explained.
As his wife Mary said, We just try to make it so people can maintain pride of ownership and the cost of their homes, it is only fair.
To do so, Hardie consults with the Multnomah County code enforcement officer to gauge the success rate of ordinances passed by other municipalities. After weighing public opinion, the council amends the solution to suit Maywood.
Still, Sometimes I feel like the hanging judge, he said, The biggest challenges about being the mayor is juggling personal feelings with doing right for the community. I think, gee I would really like to do right by this one person but I also have to do right by the community and in any democratic society the majority rules.
Identifying the majority of a smaller population may be easier than gauging that of a larger one, but only slightly. Maywood balances its budget yearly, presenting it publicly for review. However, other than the City Council members and people on the committee, nobody else comes, Hardie said. I used to complain in the monthly bulletin, 'what is wrong with you! Tell me what you want!' Nobody ever said anything. Then a little old lady came up to me at the fourth of July barbecue and she said, 'You know Mark I really like your letters but you don't need to keep asking people because if it's not broken we don't need to fix it, so you must be doing OK.
Hardie still urges participation, I think there is a huge benefit in being involved in your community. Being a volunteer is something that people should do and I don't see it happen much anymore. I look at a number of organizations whether it is the Lions Club or Masonic Lodge or Rotary, you see all those organizations shrinking but they were there to do nothing but good.
Although they can make it look effortless, both Mark and Mary Hardie put in a lot of time and energy toward city events and projects, all while raising a family, working full time, and remaining accessible to residents, said Marshall. Mark has been a real mentor to me, and is an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a difference in this community.
The Hardies have sweetened the incentive by extending all volunteers an invite to their exclusive Christmas party, the Mayor's Open House. We decided, with the city being run by volunteers, we wanted to show our appreciation. I don't care if you sweep up the diverters, if you are volunteering, you are on our list, Hardie said.
Before the Hardies took over, the Open House consisted of cookies and punch served to council members. Now about 100 Maywood volunteers enjoy an elaborate theme party, fully funded, festooned and catered by the Hardies themselves.
Volunteers receive invitations announcing the theme in early December. This allows residents time to decorate their properties accordingly, vying for a prize. Past themes have included a Hawaiian theme, and most recently 'Home is where the Heart is.' Two weeks prior, the Hardies' house begins its transformation. Furniture is cleared, tents go up in the backyard, and the downstairs rec room takes on the auspices of a bar. Mary decorates to the hilt with every aspect of the theme, giving equal attention to the food. People die for the food, said Hardie. What would a Luau be without slow cooked pork and poi?
The Hardies have also adapted existing city events into fun volunteer opportunities. For Independence Day, they stage a parade (with more participants than spectators) and a barbecue for upwards of 300 people. Volunteers set up tents, tables, bring in barbecues, organize games for the kids and clean up at the close. Though a potluck party, Mary cooks much of the food, from brined chicken to 10 gallons each of potato salad and baked beans.
The semi-annual neighborhood cleanups, called Dumpster Days, have also become social events after the Hardies started serving coffee and doughnuts in the morning and Mary's famous burnt chili-dogs during the day.
I admire them, said former City Council member and resident Bill Maloney, They have made the tide rise from Christmas to the 4th of July; they are the essence of making Maywood Park so successful.
Other citywide activities planned and executed by various volunteer committees include an Easter egg hunt, the Christmas tree lighting with carols and cocoa, and one neighborhood-wide garage sale.
Both the garage sale and the Hardies' family friendly Halloween displays attract visitors from across Portland. The Hardies, with the help of the Sheriff's office, distribute candy to hundreds of costumed kids yearly.
What is the draw? Peace of mind. I believe that the number one job of government is public safety, Hardie stated. It shows. Every month the Sheriff's office provides Hardie a complete print out of Maywood Park's police activity. The calls on there are usually somebody heard something, he said.
and it is a raccoon, Mary added. The worst thing that happens is a car break-in, and I credit the sheriff's department for their patrol. If somebody is walking here at night, it doesn't matter who they are, we told our residents you are probably going to get stopped.
I do patrol with them and they are just the greatest, said Hardie, but the way the patrols come around here it looks like we are very heavily patrolled.
Hardie promotes that perception, and to facilitate matters for police and residents, they distribute blue tree window stickers to help distinguish resident vehicles.
I think it helps the sheriffs do a better job and it gives some identity to people in the neighborhood, Hardie said.
Residents can also request police observe their homes while away. They will take special notice of that house, Hardie explained, You can't ask for much more than that.
Maywood Park returns the favor. Residents have organized a Park Watch where volunteers donning reflective gear walk the streets at night or drive with a lighted orange cone on their roof scouting for suspicious behavior, which they report, never confront.
To Hardie, the Sheriff's office is part of the Maywood family. They have standing invitations to the Mayor's Open House; Mary even sets food aside for the 10 p.m. shift change. The police also play a large role in the Fourth of July barbecue.
During the summer months, the Hardies host a Macaroni Monday or 'Taco Tuesday' event where they invite one of the deputies to chat with residents. It is another opportunity to talk. I think the whole thing is about getting younger people to understand that we need the police, they do a great job for us, and they are your friend, Hardie said.
A list of city improvements since Hardie's time in office: improved lighting; signage; and landscaping; installation of a new water fountain (designed and built by a Maywood resident); street improvements (diverters and bumps outs, with the city matching 50 percent of the cost to correct the street face of residents' property); erected the flagpole and the Maywood Park sign; and started the annual Christmas tree lighting event. According to Hardie, these additions give people in the community something to be proud about.
Others agree. Mark and Mary have done a lot of things to give back to their community, said longtime City Council member Jim Akers, As mayor he set a lot of goals that have happened. He wants the city to prosper and has lots of projects he's seen through.
It is truly amazing what Mark and the City Council have accomplished with the city's limited financial resources, complimented previous Maywood Park Mayor Jeff Steffen, Mark spends countless hours working for the city and in my opinion he is the best mayor the city has ever had.
Hardie credits the efforts of civic-minded volunteers for suggesting and carrying out improvements. This year's recipient of Maywood's Citizen of the Year award piloted the city's speed bump plan. A civil engineer originally from Chile, Jorge Villavicencio volunteers his engineering expertise for Maywood Park projects.
With no competitors vying for his position, Hardie can plan well into the future. The most looming task will be upgrading the city's dry wells to DEQ inspection standards. The recycling and compost debate, still simmering in Portland, has also come before the council.
Unlike the city of Portland I don't think we are going to say 'you have to do it this way', Hardie said. We will offer a plan like what the city of Portland does: we will offer a middle of the road plan, and we will stick with the way we are, so we will have three different programs that the hall will have to abide by.
Maywood Park residents can also look forward to some new community-building activities. Villavicencio, an iron-man athlete, suggested a Maywood run, not quite the Maywood Marathon, more like the Maywood Dash, up the multiuse path and back. Other ideas include a Dog Day in the Park, where dog owners can collect and maybe mow down some frankfurters.
Farther down the road, Hardie aspires to convert a vacant lot at 99 and Northeast Failing Street into an actual city hall.
It would provide a permanent home for city council meetings - they take place now on Mt. Hood Community College's Maywood Park Campus - it could house a municipal court and provide a satellite office for the Sheriff's department.
As for new ordinances - despite 'chicken-gate,' the heated debate raging over chicken ownership in the city - Hardie remains focused on the big picture, the one that extends from Northeast Prescott Street, to 102nd Avenue, and from I-205 to 92nd Avenue, and all those in between.
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