Sunday, September 21, 2014

Goodbye Waldorf Hotel.  Eventually.  Monday night the Astoria City Council accepted the Astoria Public Library Renovation Study Report in two parts and the Library Advisory Board recommendation regarding their prefered option for that project that would see the city library expand it's main floor to encompass the footprint currently occupied by the badly dilapidated Waldorf building.

 The project would be phased in over time.  The preliminary cost estimate comes in at 4.5 to 4.8 million dollars for this option which when completed will see the main floor remodeled, the addition of a 200 seat meeting room, more capacity for computers and internet access, a larger childrens library and some nice spaces set aside for quiet reading and study.  The next steps will come in going to actual designs for the new layout and planning for the various construction phases for the project.  The cost does not include some significant additional fundraising that will have to take place to expand the collection, add more computers and furniture amongst other details.  The Library board may decide to pursue forming a foundation fundraising arm to get the project supported long term. The entire report including the Library Board recommendation can be viewed HERE

 

In other action Monday night:

The council delayed approving the purchase of a new commercial grade copy machine for the Police Department after City Councilor Drew Herzig raised questions about the cost of the new device. Herzig said that he had done some on line research that convinced him the most expensive network color copier shouldn't cost more than $3000.00 so he didn't understand the $13,225.95 price for the copier staff was recommending.  Assistant City Manager Brett Estes explained that the cost isn't out of line for a business copier.  Finance Director Mark Carlson explained that the price was similar to that of other commercial grade copy machines with the same capabilities.  Councilors Warr, and Mellin both said they saw no need to delay the decision.  Warr stated that in his experience the price is right.  Councilor LaMear, quoting from the staff report laid out the specific uses the copier would be used for to increase efficency in the Police Department and added that the copy machine the Columbia River Maritime Museum uses cost many thousands of dollars.  Councilor Herzig remained unconvinced.  Mayor Van Dusen, saying he wanted Herzig to feel comfortable with the decision made the motion to delay the decision for two weeks. The motion passed and will be brought back at the next meeting.

 The council approved a contract with Arbor Care for the removal of vegetation around the 19th and Irving street bridge which is set for replacement. The council completed a public hearing on the sale of excess city property to adjacent property owners in the 600 block of Exchange involving the Clatsop County Historical Society and neighbors Rodger Dorband and Patricia Barnes who have decided to purchase the property jointly then come back to the city to split the property into two lots. Councilor Herzig voted against the sale.  Mayor Van Dusen asked Councilor Herzig why he would vote against the sale and Herzig said he was objecting in principal to the sale of city properties in response to what he described as public outcry. Three people have testified in opposition to the sales at previous meetings.

In conjunction with those excess city property sales, the council approved an agreement with Craft 3, a local not-for profit financial institution to provide a loan service for those who wish to buy properties on contract.  The organization is able to offer a reasonable interest rate and can make loans based on different criteria than traditional lending institutions.  Councilor Herzig pointed out that City Manager Paul Benoit sits on the Craft 3 board of directors and, as he has at a previous council meeting, stressed that Benoit has no conflict of interest in this matter. He repeated that, then said he felt it might be inappropriate for the city to have such dealings with Craft 3.  He offered no further explaination.

 

 The council accepted a grant of $169,000 from Pacific Power's Blue Sky Program to make up part of the approximate $375,000 cost for the new Bear Creek Dam Hydroelectric project.  The city would sell back about 32 killowatts generated by that project to Pacific Power. 

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