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Study options could cost city $23,500


Tualatin council ponders feasibility of moving City Hall

The Tualatin City Council knew it was down to crunch time, with its chambers due to be bisected by Seneca Street in the coming year.

But council members were hesitant to commit to a feasibility study to explore their options for relocating the two-story building that currently houses council chambers and the offices of the finance department and municipal court — and they were reluctant to agree to the study’s $23,500 price tag.

The recently updated Transportation System Plan calls for an eventual realignment of Seneca in order to improve traffic flow and access to the retail center at 7655 S.W. Nyberg St., and the alignment appears to be a requirement for any development done at the site. CenterCal Properties’ recent application for its proposed Nyberg Rivers development takes this into account, with initial site concept plans redirecting Seneca Street through the southwest segment of the former Kmart site, connecting the street with Martinazzi Avenue at what is currently a three-way intersection.

The building sits on a city-owned lot that is not part of CenterCal’s 75-year lease agreement with the Nyberg family.

During Monday's council work session, Deputy City Manager Sara Singer presented design firm SRG Partnership, Inc.’s estimate to carry out the study, which would analyze four options: Replacing the building elsewhere on its current site, renting office space elsewhere in Tualatin, relocating the offices to other city-owned spaces or a “no build” option, in the event that further traffic analysis shows there would be little impact in skipping the Seneca Street extension entirely.

To allow the community to weigh in, Singer said, there would likely be public involvement with planning in the form of “open houses, online citizen discussion, council subcommittee, community task force, engagement of (citizen involvement organizations), the business community and other community stakeholders.”

Councilor Ed Truax was concerned the feasibility study’s 60-day timeline would not leave enough room for public comment and decision-making.

“If we don't give them an answer on day 120, it's deemed to be approved the way they presented it,” Truax said. “We can’t let that happen.”

Mayor Lou Ogden assured the council the transportation plan could likely be amended to allow the Nyberg Rivers development to proceed without altering Seneca Street.

Still, Ogden was quick to defend the feasibility study.

“If the road isn't going to go through (the current council chambers), do we still need to analyze our needs, our rental space? Someday, yeah,” he said.

But, he added, “I'd rather be driven by our desire to do a facilities study and take that to the public, and actually even expand it — (asking), should it be a civics center? A new city hall? (To consider) the whole question, if we don't need Seneca to go through.”

City Manager Sherilyn Lombos believed a new building could be constructed without a bond, assuming that such a facility would also hold the city offices that are currently being housed in rented space.

“We believe that we have funds that we've saved, in various pots, that could be put together that would pay for at least half of a building,” Lombos said. “Then we could finance the other half from savings from the lease across the street.”

Ogden confirmed the feasibility study would be financed solely from the general fund.

Amid council concerns about timing, as well as the added time constraint of conducing further traffic analysis, four members of the council agreed to move ahead with the feasibility study.