Ocean Shores is moving forward on design work that is intended to create sidewalks, bike lanes and new parking along Point Brown Avenue from the gates of the city to the roundabout.
By a 5-1 vote, the City Council approved moving forward with the city’s portion ($35,000) of a federal grant for $205,000 to do the design work in compliance with the city’s Complete Streets Policy.
City Public Works Director Nick Bird told the council the money comes from the Federal Transportation Alternative Program.
The state requires the city to guarantee the money in the matching portion, Bird said, which amounts to $20,000 in cash and $15,000 in staff-allocated time.
Bird said the full scope of the work will be presented to the council in the near future, but requested city action on the grant funding to meet a looming June 15 deadline.
The project also will focus on storm-water improvements.
Councilwoman Jackie Farra was the lone vote against moving forward.
“I don’t think we should spend the money for this right now,” she said, noting it is for design only. “We don’t know when we will have enough funds to complete or activate that design, unless you can tell me something different on that.”
Bird said the grant funds do come with a requirement that a project be fully completed within 10 years or the allotted funds have to be repaid. He likened it to the someone who wants to give you $100 for $15 in return. “We’re essentially getting free money, but it does have strings,” Bird said.
He characterized it as a “risk, but a small risk in my opinion” associated with not getting the project completed.
It improves chances of getting construction funds if the design is done, added Public Works staff member Karla Roberts.
“If we have the design done, we will definitely be shovel-ready,” she said of state and federal programs that might provide construction funding.
Councilman Dan Overton said that while it was hard to “lay out the money without something in the sights,” he agreed that it would be hard to apply for grants in the future without a design in hand.
Councilman Randy Scott noted the Legislature is looking at an additional gas tax increase to fund local transportation projects, and there has been Congressional discussion of a new federal public works program based largely on state and local projects.
“The business community is very interested in having this done for the safety of pedestrians … and for parking,” said Councilman John Lynn.
“This is a very appropriate move to assure we will have some planning money to begin,” he added. “We have the time to do it correctly.”
Jon Martin, who has operated the Ocean Shores McDonald’s and Martin Bruni Liquors, noted the city required businesses in the area to pay for sidewalks with bike access as part of the roundabout project in 2009-2010.
“We paid the entire costs for it with the understanding that some day there would be sidewalks going down Point Brown,” Martin said. “But then we were informed there was no money for it. When you come through the gates (of the city), the first thing you see is that there are no sidewalks. I think this is a project that we need to move forward.”
“If you don’t start the project, it will never happen,” Martin said.
Councilman Gordon Broadbent said he has been a proponent of getting sidewalks on Point Brown for the 15 years he’s lived here.
“We’re going to put in for everything we can to get enough money to do this,” said Mayor Crystal Dingler of the construction funding.
CITY WELL CONTRACT
Also by a 5-1 vote with Farra voting against it, the council approved a $34,100 professional services agreement with Robinson Noble Inc. to prepare bid documents, site preparation and construction management for two new wells for the water system.
“This is for identifying the site of our sentinel well and production well,” Bird said. The city got two responses from a request for proposal it sent out in March for the project, but only the one from Robinson Noble met the criteria. The sentinel well is required by the state to monitor for the potential intrusion of seawater into the water system, and the production well is to reduce the strain on the existing water wells. Robinson Noble is a geo-technical firm out of Tacoma, Bird said, and the contract is “reasonable and we’d like to get going on the project.”
Names were approved for 11 of the canals in the Ocean Shores fresh waterways system based on a recent auction where members of the public could bid on the previously unnamed canals. The names are: Friendship Passage, Raccoon Lagoon, Ballous Bayou, Grown Old Along with Me Passage, Heacocks Hollow, Karoo’s Kanal, Party Pup Passage, Starrynight Passage, Marr’s Shallows and Oyhut Canal.A contest will be conducted for the remaining six unnamed canals, beginning Aug. 1 and ending Aug. 31. So far, the canal naming project has raised $2,675.