Growth a major concern for Battle Ground’s newest counselors


Victoria Ferrer aims to learn from community

As one of Battle Ground’s newest City Council members, Victoria Ferrer wants to bring a greater focus to mental health and improving infrastructure while in office.

Ferrer, who assumed office last November, has lived in Battle Ground for the last 10 years and is interested in learning about every aspect of the city.

With three children attending Battle Ground schools, Ferrer’s interest in learning more about the community doesn’t stop with the City Council. She also plans to regularly attend school district board meetings to understand Battle Ground’s educational needs.

Ferrer said that she became more involved in politics during the COVID-19 outbreak. As Ferrer spoke with Battle Ground’s residents, she developed a good idea about their concerns. She said she believes updating the city’s infrastructure is one of the city’s biggest needs.

“I know that there’s a lot of growth that’s going to [come] our way,” Ferrer said. “I’m just concerned that we’re willing to build all these houses, but we’re not thinking about the implications or the impacts that this is going to cause.”

Ferrer said she is very concerned with the cost of updating the infrastructure, including roads and sewers.

“My biggest concern right now is not all [roads] are going to be fixed,” Ferrer said. “... It feels like it’s going to be a little divided in the vote on how we go forward on the roads. To me, they should all be good, but the reality is we can’t make them all good unless we put out a bond, and obviously we don’t want to do that to the citizens.”

As the city continues to grow, Ferrer wants the city to maintain its connection to Pacific Northwest nature.

“There’s a reason why I live in Battle Ground and I don’t live in Portland or Vancouver,” Ferrer said. “I like my trees. I love to see my mountain views. I love to see open areas. I don’t believe in wall-to-wall apartments or [high-rise] buildings. I don’t think it’s good for people’s mental health. I think that’s when we start to feel like rats in a cage.”

As the city continues to build its 2024 Parks Master Plan, Ferrer looks to identifying future park developments. Ferrer said that they will showcase the city’s natural beauty while providing activities for families of all ages.

“We’re looking into turning [Durkee property] into a sports park, where it has soccer fields and baseball fields and basketball courts,” Ferrer said. “I’m really excited for citizens to have that because I’ve got to talk to some Little Leaguers and soccer coaches who [have] mentioned we don’t have a turf out here, so it’d be really nice. The [turf] we do have is pretty soggy.”

Ferrer said that the city’s staff and council have been helpful to her as she acclimates to her new position.

“The learning curve is [that] you can’t make everybody happy,” Ferrer said. “People have this idea on how they want you to vote, and if you don’t do that, you’re gonna have to make people upset.”

When not serving on the council, Ferrer is focused on her family’s needs.

Ferrer said one of her family members has a mental illness, which she described as a new challenge for their family. Although she is a veteran, she said this experience opened her eyes to the lack of resources available for those grappling with mental health issues.

“The system is doing the best with what it has, but there’s always room for improvement,” Ferrer said. “...I think what a lot of us don’t know is that we’re so in our bubbles that we don’t see the other things that people are going through until you actually go through it.”

Overholser most concerned with Battle Ground growth

From pest control to city government, Eric Overholser aims to meet the challenges that come with Battle Ground’s growth as a new member of the City Council.

Overholser, a father of four and seven-year Battle Ground resident, is a former business owner of a pest control business, which he sold to free up his schedule to serve on the City Council and as the director of a ministry, “Church in the Streets.” He started the nonprofit one year ago with his wife with the aim to help end homelessness in a safe, productive way.

“We work with the homeless, and we do work in conjunction with a few registered nonprofits,” Overholser said. “... It’s rewarding at times, and it’s very challenging at times, but again, signing up to serve other people is very rewarding in its own way.”

Overholser said he ran for City Council out of love for the community. Thus far, he has found the experience rewarding yet challenging.

“A term has been thrown around a few times of the idea of ‘drinking from a firehose,’ ” Overholser said. “... I’m fortunate that I was able to get as much of my learning curve out of the way prior, but even then, there’s definitely no shortage of information.”

Overholser’s greatest concerns for Battle Ground is the city’s growth, housing and infrastructure. Planning out the city’s utility and infrastructure needs as the city expands is vital, Overholser said.

“We are fortunate enough to be in a beautiful area here in the Northwest that is very attractive to people, and with that comes inevitable growth, but how do we do that responsibly?” Overholser said. “How do we balance that with jobs? How do we plan accordingly for the future?”

He said that he wants the City to make responsible decisions for all Battle Ground residents, new and old. Overholser said Battle Ground’s traffic needs improvement.

“As much as we worked on it, the traffic of Battle Ground [and] trying to get around is difficult at times of the day,” Overholser said. “If we had a focus on trying to alleviate that, balance that and move and streamline traffic … the idea [is] to make it a safe, flowing environment through the city, and I know that’s tough to do, but we can improve on traffic.”

Overholser said he would also like to see the city expand its outdoor sports and recreational opportunities.

“I’d like to see a sports complex brought here to Battle Ground [so] it’s possible for the kids to play baseball, football, soccer, you name it,” Overholser said. “We do have some of those facilities, but it always [would] be better to have more, and maybe centrally located.”