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Sandy operations center gets OK

Combined transit, public works facility expected to open by year's end

SANDY - Government officials, elected representatives and interested local residents will gather at an empty field near the Sandy Cinema on Friday with nothing but a few shovels and a whole lot of imagination.

At 1 p.m., the city of Sandy will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its $5.93 million combined public works/transit operations center at the future site of the facility, 16610 Champion Way.

'This is the culmination of fund-raising for this project,' said City Transit Manager Julie Stephens, whose work solidified $1.75 million from state and federal grant sources. 'It feels good to be able to thank those who have been our champions and supporters.'

State Rep. Patti Smith, Clackamas County Commissioner Lynn Peterson and various Sandy City Council members will be on hand at the ceremony. Representatives from the governor's office and the Oregon Department of Transportation are expected, and senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith have been invited, although city officials believe it's unlikely the federal legislators would attend.

'For us, this is really a big deal,' said Sandy Mayor Linda Malone, who will preside over Friday's ceremony. 'To have that kind of visible, improved public infrastructure building is big for us.'

The project will house the city's transit operations, maintenance and park-and-ride functions as well as Sandy's public works department. On the approximately 4.5-acre site there will be two 4,400-square-foot public works buildings, a 4,420-square-foot administration/transit operations building, a 36-space park-and-ride facility for the Sandy Area Metro bus, a 4,400-square-foot transit building, a 1,300-square-foot vehicle washing shed and outdoor space for public works materials such as crushed rock, pipes and asphalt mix.

There will also be secured space dedicated for city records and police evidence and equipment.

The facility also will have a number of environmentally friendly features, including porous sidewalks, energy-saving and sun-friendly windows and swales - troughs in front of the complex that will recycle stormwater for use in the bus-washing barn.

The city will pay for the center with funds from each of the departments that will benefit from the facility (see sidebar). It also will recover $1 million from land sales related to the project, liquidating surplus land adjacent to the center as well as the current city shops land on University Avenue.

City Manager Scott Lazenby said the center should be ready for its civic governmental tenants by the end of the calendar year.

The center's biggest benefits to the city, Sandy officials say, will come from the various services sharing many resources.

There will be one single wash area to clean vehicles. The city employees who manage transit operations will, for once, be in the same building as the contract staff, giving them a more hands-on relationship.

'Just the way the space is designed, it will be more efficient' for all parties involved, Lazenby said.

'I think the facility will give us a good point from which to operate our services,' said Stephens, whose office will move to the new administration building, freeing up space at the Sandy Community Center. 'We'll be able to grow, and it will give us a secure home.'

The center's buildings will reflect the city's preferred 'Cascadian' color palette, with green roofs and beige/tan sides. There will be plenty of windows in each building, and most of the structures feature angled windows at roof level, which are designed to maximize natural sunlight.

Lazenby said the pre-fabricated 'Tinker toy' buildings will be easy to build and fairly attractive.

'They're not fancy, but they'll look pretty good,' he said.

Public Works Director Mike Walker said that although the new facility won't change much about the way his department works in the short-term, the West Sandy land gives it the chance to grow in the future. The first phase calls for a work area similar in size to the current Sandy shops, but future phases call for additional public works buildings and storage space.

For now, he just sees a more comfortable work environment.

'It will be cleaner and easier to maintain,' Walker said. 'The people who work there will have some coherent space for paperwork and the office-type functions they perform, whereas right now they're in a little shed tacked on to the back of a garage.'

The city is glad overall to be moving out of the city shops on University Avenue.

'The neighborhood grew up around the facility since it was built (in 1951),' Walker said. 'Now we're no longer compatible with the residential nature of the surrounding properties, so it's a good thing we're moving out.'

Malone agreed.

'This (new) area is more suited for public works in terms of zoning,' she said. 'I like having us comply with our own zoning - industrial instead of residential.'

Plus, Walker said, 'When you move, you get rid of all the junk you don't need anymore, and that'll be good.'

'It's taken a lot of hard work making this the perfect solution to our public works/transit situation,' Malone said. 'I can't wait; I'm looking forward to seeing it start to rise up out of the ground, to match the vision of what I have on paper. This is going to be a building and project we can be proud of.'


Funding

Here's a breakdown of how the $5.93 million Sandy Operations Center will be funded:

TRANSIT: $2.5 million

For the park-and-ride facility, bus-washing station, administration building, shared amenities.

• $575,000 in federal transit funds obtained through the 'Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU),' thanks to the efforts of U.S. representatives Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio.

• $375,000 earmarked in 2006 appropriations, due to senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith.

• $800,000 in state funding through the ConnectOregon transportation infrastructure investment bill.

• The remainder of the transit portion comes from the city's transit fund, which is funded in part by local transit taxes and other local sources.

WATER/SEWER/GENERAL FUND: $850,000 each ($2.55 million total)

For public works' two buildings and storage areas, the police department's evidence and equipment storage, city records storage and shared amenities. Money transferred out of each department's funds.

STREETS: $650,000

For public works' two buildings and storage areas and shared amenities. Money transferred out of streets fund.

STORMWATER: $230,000

For public works' two buildings and storage areas and shared amenities, as well as the stormwater bioswale. Money transferred out of stormwater fund.