City Administrator Report, February 19, 2013



The wastewater treatment plant cost estimate is still rough, but is in the range of $5.25 to $6.0 million.  It is composed of three main cost components: (1) Flume Improvements – $300,000 to $350,000, (2) Biosolids Removal, $600,000 to $800,000, and (3) WWTP Construction and overall Project/Construction Management, $4,500,000.  Only element #1 is a reasonably firm estimate at this time.  DEQ needs to accept our plans for elements #2 & #3 before the estimates for these aspects of the project can firm up.   In addition, there are construction management costs, testing, reporting etc. that will add $300,000 to these costs for a two year  project.


The financing plan for the WWTP constructed improvements are drawn from three sources: (1) DEQ Loan R93642 – $4.3 million available, (2) Amendment to DEQ Loan – $1 million (potentially more – City initiated a discussion with DEQ   to secure up to a $2 million amendment), and (3) Gap Financing (Wedbush, Seattle Securities NW, USDA RUS, RCAC, CDBG).    The City may also refinance the existing USDA RUS bond indebtedness using financing available from Wedbush.  The Wedbush proposal will be presented to the Public Works Committee on 2-26-13, and be brought forward to City Council on 3-4-13.


The Planning Commission approved a 720 sq. ft. concrete block building that will provide secure space for the DAF (Dissolved Air Flotation) and Disk Filtration system.  The electrical and instrumentation for these features will all be housed at this site.  The building may also afford a future secure location for the lab.


Otak will assess the use of aggregate that Custom Excavating creates through the demolition of the school campus project.  Shannon & Wilson will conduct an onsite review of the materials to provide a geotechnical assessment of these building materials.  If this source of rock and gravel can be used, it should provide a cost savings to the project, over importing gravel and engineered fill from our closest quarry.  In the short-term, the City will use some aggregate from the school site as temporary surcharge ballast to compact soils associated with the pipe connection at the Headworks prior to the dyke elevation project.  The dykes will nominally be elevated four feet, or to no less than 622.7 feet above sea level – at this height the improvements are above the 500 year flood plan required by DEQ//FEMA.


Tetra Tech and Otak are working on establishing the construction logic for the installation of the pipe gallery under the linear trail, and the related modification in the trail when restored to a lower elevation to reduce flood water damage in the event of a high water event in the future.   The pipe gallery will be manually operated by city staff.


Pacific Habitat continues to develop an environmental assessment to meet DEQ/EPA requirements.  This past week they were onsite to complete an archeological assessment of the project improvement area.


Otak developed a Biosolids Sampling Plan and submitted it to DEQ.  The Plan intends to secure approval from DEQ to direct our efforts to sample the biosolids to then determine the method of processing that we will need to follow.  The sampling will include locations with Lagoon One & Two only.  The chemical composition of the sampled biosolids also determines costs as “hotter” biosolids require most comprehensive testing and land application methods.  The cost component of processing is a variable at this time as it is dependent on the following: (1) biosolids sampling that describe the quantity and chemical/nutrient quality of the sampling estimates, (2) coordinating of the project within the larger construction project that minimizes delays and mobilization costs, and (3) timing of transport as after July 1, 2013 more farms nearer us are available, prior to July 1, 2013, the land application sites are as far away as Hermiston.


Under separate contract with Otak, a Headworks Flume Improvement project plans and specifications is developed and submitted to DEQ for concurrence.  The project will involve earthwork, soil compaction, excavation, pipe installation, adjustments to measuring devises and a modification to the Parshall Flume section of the Headworks.  The project includes a modification of the Parshall Flume that will increase the accuracy of the measured flow from the three pumping stations through the headworks.  The project will also install eight hundred feet of 18 inch pipe that will allow the effluent to move more freely from the headworks into Lagoon One – Replacing a 12 inch pipe.  The City intends to bid this repair and see construction completed within the next three months so to not delay the start of construction on the larger project – WWTP Improvement Project.


Otak in conjunction with the City Attorney designed a Request for Qualifications to secure an eligible pool of bidders for the wastewater treatment plant facility improvement project.


The City will work with CDBG Program Representatives  to close out CDBG Grant P06021 (Wastewater Facility Design) and CDBG Grant D08018 (Wastewater Facilities Plan Update).  The City received an extension through June 2013 on P06021.  The City is on schedule to close D08018 within 45 days.  When both of these CDBG grants are administratively closed by CDBG program staff, the City will be eligible to pursue future CDBG program applications.



The consultants working on the sewer rate study, the one year look back at the water rate study and the master capital plan team are sharing information to make their projections similar.  We are hoping that the sewer and water rate study will be in reasonably complete form to allow the FY 2013-2014 budget to be informed, but it may not work out that way.  The same is true with the Master Capital Plan.  Regardless of the timing of these studies the City will work to see that they are completed.



The City continues to work with Brad Curtis (owner of Photo Solutions) and Casey Mitchell (owner of land along undeveloped California Avenue) to assess whether the City coordinate an application for Special Public Works Fund and/or Immediate Opportunity Fund resources to assist in the development of a small business park.



The City signed and returned the Agreement No LGP0252-1 Spencer Park Development.  The award of these funds will be used to purchase and install a restroom in the replacement park that will be built on the site of the old school campus.  The funds will pay for a restroom, picnic shelter and some ADA walkway improvements.


The City provided Jim Sandlin, project manager with MacKay and Sposito Landscape Architects with information to assist them prepare for the Master Park Plan process.  The Master Park Plan intends to look at all of the city’s land holdings from Vernonia Lake to Anderson Park.  We will use this process to also look at the connection between Hawkins Park, Shay Park, and the open space proximate to these land holdings.  The goal of this process is to identify a meaningful approach to the long term development of City park properties that will promote recreation, tourism and economic befits to the community.


Public Works Department installed the replacement restroom at Vernonia Lake to serve both campers, fisherman, and the community allowing for greater recreational opportunity.


City staff met with Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Vernonia Lions Club, and a representative of a commercial pump vendor to assess options for a replacement pump at the lake to draw water from the Nehalem River.  Lion’s Club envisions that they will be the project sponsor.  The City will be involved in reviewing plans and specs, reviewing construction, and ultimately in operating.


The City made an agreement with Custom Excavating to purchase a variety of salvaged materials from the deconstructed Washington Grade School.  The City intends to acquire approximately 140 pieces of lumber (e.g. 2×12 and 2×14 – 20 foot lengths; 12×12 and 12×19 inch nine to 15 foot lengths) that will be used to build the picnic shelter, be refinished as benches and used as architectural elements in construction projects.  This will allow the legacy of the former school to live on in the replacement park project now in design.


The City is coordinating with an area ODOT road improvement project to accept fill material at the City Airport to be used for future land leveling projects at the Airport and park facilities.



As we informed you earlier this year, FEMA’s national Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have numerous changes that begin rolling out January 1, 2013.  The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 requires FEMA to take steps to eliminate a variety of existing flood insurance subsidies and calls for a number of changes in how the program operates.

Changes in Effect or Coming

Here are a few of the immediate changes that we will see impact the community: (1) Change starts January 1, 2013: Subsidized premium rates for pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (pre-FIRM) non-primary residences in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) will begin to increase by 25 percent a year until they reflect full-risk rates. A pre-FIRM building is one that was built before the community’s first flood map became effective and has not been substantially damaged or improved.  (2) There will be more changes in the future: Some older residences in high-risk zones have been receiving subsidized insurance rates based on their pre-FIRM status. Subsidies will be phased out for severe repetitive loss properties consisting of 1-4 residences, business properties, and properties that have incurred flood-related damages where claims payments exceed the fair market value.  The City Attorney and City Administrator discussed options with the City Planner,  and CAT Flood Recovery Manager.  The City will embark on a focused code enforcement program to attempt to bring all parties that are out of compliance into compliance with a working goal of completing all improvements in the near future.  The underlying rational is to allow the City in the future to be an applicant for Community Rating System NFIP flood insurance reductions.  To be invited to participate in CRS we must have 100% compliance with code enforcement.

Next steps for the City

•  The City will create a master list for all property owners within the floodplain.  The City will contact all property owners from this list to inform them of the compliance issues that are now in effect.

•  The City will contact the parties on the 1996-1998 to date Community Assistance Visit to update their compliance status.

•  The City will work with code enforcement protocol to enforce the ordinance that the City has in place.

As a result of this compliance process, the City will develop an internal protocol to handle concerns and likely complaints raised by this enforcement.  We intend to also meet with the local realtors and bankers to make sure these professionals understand the rules associated with selling property in the floodplain.


The City met with the key stakeholders (i.e. Vernonia Health Clinic, Vernonia Cares Food Bank, and Vernonia Area Senior Center) and their project managers (i.e. Scott Edwards AIA and Community Action Team).  This meeting established the framework for making decisions jointly on this project.  The two project managers made a commitment to establish a regular meeting schedule and a commitment to work toward shared goals.  Through this process they intend to create a site development master plan for all to use in site planning.  The City made a commitment to inform the project managers of the City of Vernonia entitlement process (i.e. Planning Department and Planning Commission, Public Works Department and City Engineer, City Attorney, and Building Official).  The City Attorney and Planning Director will work together to create a land partition to create the leasehold for the clinic (this is the first project moving forward and a legal land partition is needed to establish the bounds for the project).  The City Attorney will develop a land lease for all three entities, again the focus will be the clinic, but this is a universal document.  The City Attorney will develop the access easement that all parties will sign when appropriate that will also include a maintenance agreement.  At this time, the Vernonia Health Clinic is aggressively moving forward with their development schedule as they hope to be under construction this summer and in their new building by the end of the year.


The City will work with WOEC to develop a reimbursement district that will allow the Co-op potential access to capital from commercial development on property that abuts improvements that they invested in in 2011/2012.  The Rose Avenue Project development teams are apprised that this external cost is applicable to their projects capital budget planning.