A poor return rate for a community income survey of sewer customers in John Day and Canyon City was the only setback cited in City Manager Nick Green’s update on the Innovation Gateway project at the city council’s Feb. 13 meeting.
Survey information will be used to determine if the community is eligible for a federal Community Development Block Grant that will help pay for a new wastewater treatment plant that will serve the two cities located at the former Oregon Pine property the city purchased in 2017.
Only 23 percent of surveys sent to 312 randomly-selected customers had been returned, and the city needed a 90 percent response rate, Green reported. Volunteers will be sent out this month to contact households that have not responded, he said.
The city will need to budget a $27,000 cash match for a $200,000 state Transportation Growth Management grant for planning and design of the project. On Jan. 16, the city invited Grant County to contribute an in-kind, no-cash match to assist in the effort, Green said.
The 2-acre area between the future city shop and the former planer shed was successfully removed from the floodplain map by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city’s new greenhouse will be built in this area, Green said.
Surveying has begun for a trail system around the project area. Some of the trails could be open to the public by this summer, Green said. Improvements to an existing bridge are undergoing preliminary engineering analysis, and funding for the bridge work would be included in the funding request for trail paving, he said.
City staff were soliciting bids to repair and paint the siding of the former sawmill building to improve its appearance until a future commercial use for the building was decided, Green said. Some vandalism and theft of tools had taken place at the building, and the city plans to install video cameras in the area to increase security, he said.
The city council also unanimously approved a resolution to exempt the contract for the greenhouse project from the traditional competitive bidding process and allow an alternative design-build contracting method. No public comments were made during a hearing on the resolution.
Under the design-build method, one party provides both design and construction services, which is common among greenhouse companies and will deliver “a better overall value to their clients,” Green told the council.
According to findings in support of the resolution, the city has budgeted $400,000 to build and equip a 5,500-square-foot greenhouse, including hydroponic systems, grow lights, mechanical systems, HVAC, “fertigation” and related equipment. Projected operating costs for the greenhouse are $150,000 per year, the findings say.
In other council news:
• Mayor Ron Lundbom recognized in a proclamation the lifetime achievements of Donn Willey, who passed away Jan. 25. Willey served as a city councilor for nine years and “was a friend, mentor, advisor and colleague of city councilors and city staff both past and present,” Lundbom said.
• The council unanimously approved providing the $4,945 in supplemental marijuana tax from 2017 to the Community Health Needs Assessment Substance Abuse Committee to support education on substance abuse issues.
The city received a request for the money from Blue Mountain Hospital District CEO Derek Daly in a Jan. 9 letter. Green has served as the chairman of the committee since January 2017.
Expressing his concerns about the failure of past substance abuse efforts in the area, Councilor Gregg Haberly asked for more information about how the money would be used.
Others on the council also expressed their concerns before agreeing to make a one-time payment for the requested amount from the city’s Community Development Investment Fund in this fiscal year and then replenishing the fund in the next year’s budget.
A similar request for marijuana tax revenue was made to the Grant County Court, but the item was removed from the Feb. 14 agenda.
• The council approved a schedule for the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget process and appointed Green to serve as the city’s budget officer. Final budget proposals will be discussed during a March 5 staff meeting, and the proposed budget packet will go to the budget committee April 13. The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget May 22 and adopt the final budget June 12.
• The city’s Annual Public Safety Report/Briefing will be presented at the council’s Feb. 27 meeting. The State of the City address will be presented at the council’s March 13 meeting.