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A creek runs through it: City plans to move Public Works to Viking Way

Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson, City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak and Councilman David Musgrove look at a stretch of Dogfish Creek that flows through the public works facility on Iverson Road.     - Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald
Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson, City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak and Councilman David Musgrove look at a stretch of Dogfish Creek that flows through the public works facility on Iverson Road.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — It might not look like it at first glance, but Poulsbo’s public works facility is on waterfront property.

“Waterfront” in that the site — located a half-mile uphill from the Liberty Bay shoreline — becomes a branch of Dogfish Creek during heavier rains. Water from the creek around 7th Avenue and Iverson Street will breach its banks and flow up to the front door of the public works building. The renegade stream then flows through the front office, through another door into a garage where it takes a left turn and heads back outside into a parking lot and then off-site.

“It’s been flooding off-and-on since I’ve been here,” Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson said. Wilson has worked for the city for 27 years.

Electrical wires in the office are all kept up off the floor. Shelves are raised on blocks to keep contents dry. The office isn’t the only alternative route for parts of Dogfish Creek. Another branch of the waterway flows across the back of the public works site and will also overflow across the parking lot. Wilson said he has seen small fish brave the stretch of asphalt as the water flows across it, before reconnecting to the main creek on the other side.

Wilson led a tour through the public works facility April 2 for Mayor Becky Erickson, city staff, and members of the City Council’s Finance Committee, including Council members Connie Lord, David Musgrove and  Ed Stern.

Staff briefed the finance committee on the city’s progress in planning for a new public works facility on Viking Way, at the north end of the city. The move comes with a price tag that could run as high as $4.5 million over a decade-long time span.

Erickson wanted the finance committee to understand the need for a new public works facility and, just as important, understand that it will be money well spent.

The committee will advise the council, which will approve or deny funding for future city budgets.

The tour showcased the operations of public works, from street sweepers to sign making. It also served to emphasized wanting aspects of the current operation that may not be up to par — from bathroom facilities to the general condition of the buildings — and drive home the message that a new facility is needed.

“The council already has committed to replacing this place, there’s no question as to the dilapidated condition,” Stern said during the meeting. “And this will happen sometime this decade.”

Stern expressed caution, however, on how the venture will be paid for, as Erickson attempted to sell the idea and get it moving along sooner than later. But that will cost money.

The city is currently in the planning phase and doesn’t expect to make any move until later this decade.

“I’m feeling a sense of urgency to address this pretty quickly because of the conditions here,” Erickson said. “I’m not talking about doing this now, I’m not talking about doing this in 2015, but we need to start planning now.”

To plan, the city will need $250,000, some of which is already budgeted for. The city will need to find $150,000 in the 2014 budget, however, that has not already been allotted toward the effort.

The overall project will be paid for through a series of grants, loans, and money gained from selling off city land, such as current public works site after the move to Viking Way.

From Stern’s perspective on the finance committee, he wants a full understanding of the costs associated with making the move, before he votes toward it.

“The project must be paid for bottom line by our local taxpayers and importantly, our ratepayers,” Stern said after the meeting. “I need to understand rate increases associated with the actual construction.”

“This project will be done, certainly,” he said. “Public works facilities are derelict. Rushing into it with incomplete understandings would be irresponsible on the council’s part, and would add to the derelict nature of things if we do not fully understand the costs.”

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