Sequim council signs Pitship Estuary pact

The design services contract for the Pitship Estuary bridge project was awarded to Northwestern Territories Inc. of Port Angeles by a 6-1 vote at the Oct. 27 Sequim City Council meeting. City Councilor Erik Erichsen voted, "no," after questioning what the city would be receiving for its money.

Acting Public Works director Bill Bullock said Northwestern Territories' estimate for the project was $25,309 and the additional $309 beyond the $25,000 budgeted will come from the project's contingency fund.

The approximately five-acre, 100-year-old Pitship Estuary is adjacent to the intersection of West Sequim Bay Road and Whitefeather Way. It is a saltwater marsh fed by the freshwater Silver Springs.

In September, the city council approved proceeding with a $382,500 project to replace an existing culvert under West Sequim Bay Road by building a bridge with an opening of at least 28 feet. The bridge's wider opening would allow various salmon species to return to the estuary for habitat, food and security.

The city is committed to providing $50,000 of in-kind engineering or other services as a match toward the $382,500 grant for building the bridge. Bullock said the company will provide geotechnical and engineering design services as part of the overall project. This action is approving the contract with Northwestern Territories Inc. that was approved by the city attorney, he said.

Professional services such engineering design are not subject to bidding as construction projects are but instead are negotiated with a firm determined to be the best qualified.

City Councilor Ken Hays said the city might end up spending money for a project that can't be built for some unknown environmental reason. He asked if there is any way for the city to pull back from the project if that happens.

Bullock said that's why this kind of preliminary engineering and design work is done.

City Councilor Bill Huizinga said the city was obligated only for the $50,000 match.

The city is seeking state permission to use its "real estate excise tax 2" funds - a second one-fourth of 1 percent tax on real estate sales - as half of its $50,000 match for the grant. The other $25,000 will come from in-kind services provided by city staff.

The grant was awarded in late 2007 and the project was supposed to begin in the early spring with preliminary engineering, including survey and design, according to a memo to the council from Frank Needham, the city's capital projects manager.

That would be followed by permit applications with construction beginning in the late fall of 2008 and ending by the fall of 2009, the memo stated.

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