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  • 29 Jul 2015

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Oregon City School District gets green light for new transportation maintenance facility

Construction is scheduled to start Aug. 17, with an official groundbreaking tentatively on Aug. 3, for the Oregon City School District’s new transportation maintenance facility.

OCSD’s more than 65 school buses and various maintenance vehicles will move in 2016 to 10.5 acres next to the Oregon City High School on Beavercreek Road. Previously, OCSD was faced with an inefficient and aging transportation building at a former rural school at Maple Lane Court that was never equipped to handle the current transportation department or meet industry safety standards.

It hasn’t been easy for OCSD to get a green light on the $13.325 million facility, starting with its acceptance of nearly 80 conditions of approval from the city’s Planning Commission earlier this year. During the School Board’s meeting this week, Wes Rogers, director of operations, announced that the district had come to an argeement with Oregon City on development fees in exchange for building a $200,000 extension of Meyers Road.

“We’re going to build out the entire cross section, even though we’re on one side of the road,” he said on July 20. “We’re excited to go forward with the project at its preferred location on High School Avenue.”

The state will reimburse the district for 70 percent of the capital costs of the 25,700-sqaure-foot facility, and the estimate at this point is that 56 percent of the project will be reimbursed over 25 years. If the district can move facility operations there by June 1, 2016, then it could gets its first payment for the following fiscal year.

'Campus industrial zone'

Rogers wanted the board to be aware that the transportation maintenance facility is just the first step in a larger long-term vision for the area.

In extending Meyers Road from Highway 213 to High School Avenue, the new road is designed for speeds of 30 mph and includes a 3-foot buffer between the new traffic lane in both directions and its bike lanes. A median in the middle of the road will be landscaped where it isn’t needed for a turning lane, and a planting strip separates the roadway from sidewalks on either side.

Just south of the new maintenance facility, the city is planning the new Glen Oak Park. A new connecting road would link Clackamas Community College’s South Douglas Loop to the Meyers Road extension.

Martin Montalvo of Oregon City Public Works told School Board members that the path of the road is planned so it would have least impact possible to trees and wetlands in the areas.

“It was one of the key focus points in our design, both in terms of cost and being good stewards of the environment,” Montalvo said.

Elizabeth Mros-O’Hara, a consultant working with the city through David Evans and Associates, said the five-to-10-year plan will focus on creating 1,000 living-wage jobs near OCHS and CCC in a new “campus industrial zone.”

“There’s a real desire to have some large-lot parcels resulting from this project,” Mros-O’Hara said.

While the proposed new road drew praise from the elected officials, School Board member Chris Storey complained about the cost of governmental projects. Board member Siobhan Gwozdz, however, argued that it was only fair for local workers to benefit from a state law that gives living wages for public projects.

“It makes people think that governments are inefficient, which we are,” Storey said.

Superintendent Larry Didway said the argument between Gwozdz and Storey provided a nice segway to discussing Salem politics. Didway hoped that OCSD will benefit from the Oregon Legislature’s just-approved $125 million school facilities bond, and from a newly created $175 million seismic upgrade fund.

Remaining funding for the project is expected to come from a combination of surplus land sales and long-term debt financing secured by the district. If all goes to plan, over the next five to seven years, the cost of this project would have no impact on general fund, meaning that it would not affect such items as class sizes and textbook purchases.