City staff may have found a solution for funding a $50,000 grant match that is part of a $382,500 project to replace a culvert in the Pitship Estuary.
The city council agreed to use $25,000 from the city's real estate excise tax 2 fund and provide another $25,000 in in-kind engineering services, pending city attorney Craig Ritchie's approval.
The vote was 6-1 with Councilor Erik Erichsen voting "no."
The approximately five-acre, 100-year-old Pitship Estuary is located adjacent to the intersection of West Sequim Bay Road and Whitefeather Road. It has been a saltwater marsh fed by the freshwater Silver Springs.
The project is to replace an existing culvert under West Sequim Bay Road by building a bridge with an opening of at least 28 feet. It would allow various salmon species to return to the estuary for habitat, food and security.
City capital projects manager Frank Needham said the city is committed to providing $50,000 in in-kind engineering or other services as a match toward the $382,500 grant for whatever replaces the failing culvert.
But since the city doesn't have that expertise on staff, it would have to pay for engineering services through its small works roster, he said.
So the North Olympic Salmon Coalition proposed the city provide other services to meet the $50,000 match, Needham said.
Needham said if the project were included in the city's capital facilities plan and comprehensive plan, then perhaps the city could satisfy the grant match by using $25,000 from the real estate excise tax 2 fund and $25,000 in in-kind engineering services.
But Ritchie's approval is necessary to use the "REET 2" funds, which have been used for other capital projects, he said.
Administrative services director Karen Goschen said according to state law the tax can be used for projects listed in a comprehensive plan and capital improvement project but she'd really like Ritchie to review it as well.
Needham said the cost will be higher when the culvert fails and they can't beat having the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe as partners on the project.
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 from Needham to the council.
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.
City public works director Jim Bay, now retired, had signed a "contributing partner agreement" committing to $50,000 worth of preliminary engineering, Needham's memo stated.
If the city must replace the failing culvert later on its own, the cost could be $200,000 for a new culvert or up to $500,000 for a bridge, according to the memo.
Rebecca Benjamin from the North Olympic Salmon Coalition said the idea was to recreate the historical flow between the marsh and tidelands.
Michael Blanton from the state Department of Ecology said a bridge to replace the culvert would allow the tidal recharge to occur.
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