Clallam County has awarded a $9.03 million bid to a Federal Way contractor to build a sewer system for Carlsborg and more than $730,000 for an air handler that will help the shuttered Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) reopen.
The three county commissioners awarded the Carlsborg sewer bid and the SARC air handler, both by unanimous vote, on March 29.
Sewer project to kick off
Pacific Civil & Infrastructure will break ground in mid-April and will complete the construction by April 1, 2017.
“This project has been a long time coming,” said Commissioner Mark Ozias, who represents Carlsborg and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
“There have been numerous commissioners and staff members who have worked tirelessly to put a really solid plan together,” he added.
“I’d like to credit (Public Works Administrative Director) Bob Martin and others in the public works department who have put such a thoughtful and well-planned project together for us.”
The contractor will build a pump station along Carlsborg Road near the Olympic Discovery Trail crossing.
Sewage will be piped from Carlsborg to the existing treatment facility in Sequim.
Pacific Civil & Infrastructure submitted the lowest of seven bids that commissioners opened March 1. The winning bid was about $2 million under the engineer’s estimate.
While no Clallam County contractor bid on the sewer, local subcontractors are expected to be involved in its construction, Martin has said.
Clallam County has been planning for a sewer in Carlsborg since the 1990s.
“It’s fair to say that many commissioners before us, and many staff members before current staff, spent a lot of time on this project in order to comply with state government GMA (Growth Management Act) guidelines and to fulfill environmental stewardship in the Carlsborg area,” longtime Commissioner Mike Chapman said.
The Carlsborg Urban Growth Area was invalidated by a Growth Management Act hearings board in 2008 because the town lacked adequate infrastructure.
The ruling, which prevented businesses from expanding, was lifted when the county secured funding for the sewer.
“It’s a great project, one that I think every commissioner who’s served here for the last decade or more has supported,” Chapman said.
Clallam County is paying for the sewer with a $10 million loan from the state Public Works Trust Fund.
The 0.25 percent interest loan will be repaid from the county’s Opportunity Fund, a share of state sales tax that supports infrastructure in rural areas.
Clallam County also has $1.43 million available in a special sewer fund.
“I have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by folks from numerous places about the sewer project,” Ozias said. “I have studied the project thoroughly and I believe that it is absolutely the right thing to do for the county.”
SARC/YMCA moving forward
Supporters of a plan to reopen Sequim’s public pool and recreation center cheered last week when Clallam County commissioners awarded a grant to pay for a new air handler.
Commissioners voted to approve the $731,705 expenditure after hearing overwhelming public support in a 90-minute hearing.
Nineteen speakers testified at the hearing. None who spoke opposed the grant.
“This room can be filled and it’s very rarely filled with people with smiles on their face speaking in support,” Chapman said. “Now the real work starts.”
Clallam County Parks and Recreation District 1, the junior taxing district that owns the shuttered Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) at 610 N. Fifth Ave., plans to reopen the facility under the management of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA.
Money from the county’s Opportunity Fund will be used to replace the antiquated air handler with a more energy-efficient system.
The state-required air handler maintains air quality, humidity and a safe balance of chemicals in the natatorium or pool area.
“From an aquatics standpoint, it is probably the most important piece of equipment that you’ll have,” said Steve Burke, executive director of William Shore Memorial Pool and a Port of Port Angeles commissioner. “Pools in general weren’t meant to be indoors. And so when we put them indoors, your air handling is everything.”
YMCA officials hope to open the pool this fall as the Sequim YMCA. The park district would be the landlord.
“We’ve seen leadership from many entities and organizations, and as far as I’m concerned, this is a real example of our community at its best,” Ozias said. “I hope to see more examples of that over the course of time.”
Ozias thanked the Olympic Peninsula YMCA for stepping forward and the other partners who were behind the effort.
Those who testified included Parks and Recreation District 1 acting chairman Sherry Nagel, Olympic Medical Center CEO Eric Lewis, Sequim School District Superintendent Gary Neal, Sequim city councilor Candice Pratt, Olympic Peninsula YMCA acting director Len Borchers, two Sequim-area Realtors and four members of the Sequim High School girls swim team.
“Your engagement makes a big difference,” Commissioner Bill Peach told the audience. “I commend you for it.”
County commissioners had delayed action on the grant to analyze financing.
Doing so “allowed everyone to kind of not be rushed into spending these tax dollars,” Chapman told supporters of the Sequim recreation center.
The Opportunity Fund is a portion of state sales tax that supports public infrastructure in rural areas.
The Sequim center grant was discussed last month by members of the Clallam County Finance Committee, which made no formal recommendation to commissioners.
“The numbers were all vetted,” Chapman said.
“I really commend Mark and Bill and the county leadership team with a process that allowed today to happen. There’s a right way and a wrong way, and clearly, in my opinion, this was the right way.”
Reopening the pool will provide four full-time jobs and about 40 part-time jobs for mainly high school students and young adults, Nagel said.
Several speakers said a functioning pool would help attract new residents to the area.
Since SARC closed Oct. 30, members of the Sequim High School boys and girls swim teams have been commuting to Port Angeles for practice and meets.
“SARC is a viable facility for our educational philosophy and mission and vision,” Neal said.
Chapman said he received 128 emails from people in favor of the pool grant, including elderly residents who relied on the pool for exercise and rehabilitation.
He received just one email from a person opposed to the grant.
“In my 15-plus years as a county commissioner, never before have I seen that many emails in favor of an issue,” Chapman said. “There may have been a few times where I received that many opposed to something. So that was a first.”
Jan Richardson cast the lone no vote when SARC commissioners voted 4-1 to support a lease agreement with the Olympic Peninsula YMCA on March 9.
Richardson signed up to testify at Tuesday’s hearing but left the room before he was called to the podium.
“It was a forgone conclusion,” Richardson said in a telephone interview.
“I’ve done as much as I can do, as one person.”
Richardson had raised repeated concerns over the economic viability of the YMCA running the pool. He also questioned the need to purchase a $700,000 air-handling unit when the original estimate was about $350,000.
“When the Y became part of the solution, we wanted to look beyond just the Band-Aid approach because the first approach wouldn’t have any energy savings component to it,” Burke said at the public hearing.
“It would have just fixed what was broken. But when the Y became part of the solution, we wanted to find something that would actually be better longer term and also that would have some energy efficiency.”
He added, “This will give the Y, I think, the best opportunity to succeed.”
Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at email@example.com.
Terry Ward, publisher of Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the YMCA board of directors.