Port Angeles City Council OKs $3.9 million esplanade

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — The City Council has taken money from the city's marketing and visitor signage programs to cover construction costs for the esplanade phase of the waterfront improvement project.

Council members voted 6-1 Tuesday, with Councilman Max Mania opposed, to approve a $3.9 million contract to Primo Construction of Carlsborg, the lowest of four bids submitted.

The entire, roughly $17 million waterfront project will be permitted as of Friday, when the city gets an Army Corps of Engineers permit to drive pilings for the esplanade, city Community and Economic Development Director Nathan West said Wednesday.

The pedestrian walkway will include seating and be built north of Railroad Avenue toward the shoreline.

Construction equipment will be staged by Sept. 30, but no work is planned to take place during the 11th annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival from Oct. 12-14, West said.

The contract awarded Tuesday was 11.5 percent higher than the $3.5 million engineer's estimate for the project.

“Until I've had an opportunity to meet with the contractor, I don't have details of what made that higher,” West said.

“The good thing is that we saw consistency there in that each contractor had higher numbers and were a little more in line with where we are as far as the [contract] award goes.”

Council members filled the gap by taking $80,000 from the city's “branding” program, which cancels the effort to market the North Olympic Peninsula's amenities but kept in place a $5,000 marketing push for the city's composites campus.

The council also applied $125,657 in “wayfinding” sign-direction project funds and $24,898 in entryway monument project funds to the contract.

The council also transferred $142,464 in economic development funds.

West told council members Tuesday that the project is “theme-changing” for the city and that he expects it to spur economic development.

Mayor Cherie Kidd defended taking funding from the city's marketing and visitor-amenity efforts, saying the waterfront project serves those very purposes.

“This is marketing for Port Angeles. This is the best marketing Port Angeles could have,” she said.

Improving Port Angeles' waterfront near the MV Coho ferry landing on Railroad Avenue has been discussed “for decades,” she said.

The Black Ball Ferry Line ferry daily plies the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to Victoria and back.

“By upgrading and making this a beautiful entrance, it is an entryway monument not just for Port Angeles, but the United States of America,” Kidd said.

Existing conditions make for a depressing return from Victoria.

“When you take the ferry to Victoria, you're inflated,” Kidd said.

“When you return to home, you're deflated.

“I am so excited this is actually going to happen,” she said.

“I feel like this is a huge step in the next phase of the future of Port Angeles.”

Mania, who voted no on the bid award, was concerned that “we don't have money for future phases of the project.”

He said he was worried that so much in city economic development funds — a primary source of city money for the project — was being spent.

Economic development would be well-served by instead putting funds into aging infrastructure, Mania said.

“If we were flush, I would not argue against it,” he said.

West said the city has $1.7 million in economic development funds that have not been dedicated to the project.

The city will be applying for a $500,000 state Community Economic Revitalization Board grant and a $211,000 to $500,000 port security grant for improved lighting.

During the public comment session that opened the council meeting, support for the project was expressed by Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce President Brian Kuh, Port Angeles Business Association President Dick Pilling and Port of Port Angeles Environmental Planning and Permit Technician Jesse Waknitz.

Councilman Dan Di Guilio said he appreciated the port's support but was disappointed the agency was not more involved in the project.

“It would be nice if we could develop linkage with the port that would help us finish the project or get to another phase,” he said.

The port, which owns major parcels of land along the waterfront, will benefit from the improvement project, he said.

Councilman Patrick Downie responded that the port soon will begin dismantling the abandoned Peninsula Plywood mill about a half-mile from the waterfront project.

He also noted that Black Ball Ferry Line is embarking on a $3.5 million to $4 million project to replace its western dock and improve the terminal area.

The project will include joint city-Black Ball efforts to beautify the dock area to minimize conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

If fully funded, the two-tenths-of-a-mile waterfront improvement project along Railroad Avenue to Oak and First streets will include a newly built park at the end of Railroad Avenue.

The park begins just west of Oak Street, extends to Valley Creek Estuary and will include a fountain and a plaza, the removal of riprap and the establishment of two new public beaches.

Park construction could begin in July 2013, West said.

The council also awarded a $299,005 contract for construction management to Vanir Construction Management Inc. of Sacramento, Calif., and a contract of up to $40,000 to Studio Cascade Inc. of Spokane, the esplanade designer, for on-call services during construction.

Mania voted against awarding the contracts.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 19. 2012 5:49PM
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