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Municipal campus decision expected

POULSBO — A 14-year odyssey may come to an end tonight as the fate of the most recent municipal campus is decided by the city council.

Council members will be asked at their weekly meeting to decide whether to move ahead with plans to purchase property owned by Olympic Property Management at the intersection of Lincoln Road and State Route 305 or look for another site.

“It’s not a matter of which building, it’s a matter of which site,” said Councilman Ed Stern as he pointed to the council’s decision to pursue new construction instead of refurbishment, which was reaffirmed in August.

The city has received one extension from OPG to allow Tacoma-based BLRB Architects to complete a due diligence study of the site, but probably won’t receive another one, Stern said.

Stern said the city must make a decision on the property because if it decides not to purchase the property, OPG is expected to move forward with plans to divide the property into eight smaller parcels, which would be developed as the Westview Business Park, in addition to OPG’s existing building. The city’s proposed plans for the property includes just a city hall/courts building and a new police station.

“It is my understanding that market values surrounding the site have increased because of the great awareness of its commercial value,” Stern said.

Cost estimates for the proposal range from $11.7 million to $12.6 million, plus the property purchase price, which is estimated at $2 million.

From a financing standpoint, after being historically low, interest rates are increasing, Stern said.

“As anyone who has a bought a house knows the purchase is the least cost,” he said. “Carrying costs are the majority of the costs.”

There is also a limit on the amount of non-voted general obligation bonds the city can issue in one year and still maintain its bank-qualified status, which reduces the interest rate, Stern added.

“The thinking was to spread the bonds over two years and the window on 2005 is closing fast,” he said.

The first issuance of bonds would be $5.1 million for 2005, with $7.3 million being issued in 2006. The city would also sell its current city hall and Mitchusson Park properties.

Mayor Donna Jean Bruce echoed Stern’s sentiments and said she hopes the council approves the project.

“I think it needs to happen, because anyone who worked in this building knows how inadequate it is,” Bruce said.

Productivity will improve once city employees have enough room to work instead of facing the constraints of the current city hall, she said, as she compared it to a can of sardines.

However, before the council votes on the proposal, members of the public will have an opportunity to express their concerns, she said. The time limit will be three minutes per person, which is the same as it is during the public comment time at regular council meetings.

• Architect selection

In addition to authorizing the mayor to execute the proposed purchase and sale agreement with OPG, the council will be asked to expand the existing scope of work with BLRB Architects to include design, engineering and other services.

Members of the council’s public works committee asked Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln to pursue local architect involvement in the process instead of solely relying on BLRB.

Councilman Dale Rudolph proposed requiring BLRB to have a local architect as a member of the design team to provide input from the community’s perspective. That proposal was supported by Councilwoman Kathryn Quade.

• The other plan

If the council votes not to purchase the OPG site, the Westview Business Park would then move ahead, presenting a contrast in the development of the property.

The eight additional lots would range in size from 2.38 acres to .30 acres, centered around the existing OPG building lot, which is 1.77 acres.

The ninth parcel, which would remain the same size under both proposals, which would be the police station property at the north end of the lot under the campus plan.

The wetlands would remain much the same under both plans, but OPG would not be required to construct the retention pond that exists in the city’s proposal.

The property at the corner of Lincoln and SR 305 would also be developed as part of the business park plan instead of being undeveloped under the city plan.

Under the business proposal for Westview Business Park, a separate wetland will be considered in place of the proposed parking area for the municipal campus.

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