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Cedar Ridge aquatic/community center master plan to cost the city of Sandy an estimated $146,000

FILE PHOTO - City Council approved moving forward on its long-awaited sidewalk project at the Sept. 18 meeting. It has been a decade-long goal for Sandy City Council to build a sidewalk along Highway 26 from Vista Loop Drive to Ten Eyck Road. At the Sept. 18 meeting, Sandy Public Works Director Mike Walker brought revised cost estimates for project in front of Council, raising the question of does the city or doesn't it move forward on the project at this time.

The Vista Loop to Ten Eyck Sidewalk Project was developed by the city in 2012, and the city received $1.9 million in funds from ODOT's Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to complete the project within the 2016-18 cycle.

Now, as that time frame nears a close, the $1.9 million from ODOT is still the city's for the taking, but the total cost of the project has increased from $2.2 million with the city footing $328,270 to $2.8 million with the city responsible for around $900,000 of the expense.

Besides the price tag, the scope of the project was trimmed down. Originally, the project entailed widening the bike lane and shoulder on the north side of Highway 26 by six feet, creating a raised, landscaped median in the center of the highway, adding street lighting and building a curb and sidewalk on the north side from Vista Loop Drive to Ten Eyck Road and improving water quality-related issues.

Now, at a greater cost, ODOT has changed the scope to a paved path with a shoulder and widened bike lane and dropped the city's proposed ideas of a median, street lighting, curbs and improvements related to water quality.

Council was overall greatly disappointed by the changes in the proposed project, and many councilors were torn as to whether or not the city should proceed on the long-awaited goal.

The kicker, Councilor Lois Coleman said, is "(the project's) not going to get any cheaper."

The city also would not be able to do this project without ODOT's involvement, not only because it would lose it's STIP funding, but because ODOT owns the right-of-way, which the city would need to access and alter to complete the project.

"It seems like anything we do with ODOT is going to have this unrealistic overhead," Councilor Jeremy Pietzold added.

Besides the issue of cost, several voiced concerns harkening back to one of the initial reasons for the project: to improve safety for Sandy citizens.

Many people from the Vista Loop area walk the length of Highway 26 into town every day, utilizing the limited shoulder of the road. Though no one to date has been severely injured or killed while traveling that way, Council doesn't like the odds.

"We've been wanting a sidewalk since back before I was on Council, when I was on planning commission," Councilor Carl Exner said. "I consider this one of the highest safety issues (in the city)."

This concern is overwhelmingly what led Council's decision to move forward with the project. In a straw poll, only one councilor, Don Hollis, voted against proceeding saying he worried the project "literally is draining (the) budget for the rest of the city."

"The concern is not about the money," Councilor Olga Gerberg told The Post after the meeting. "We're talking about the lives. It's not about what kind of materials we use, but the safety."

In other news, City Manager Kim Yamashita provided the council with an update on the Cedar Ridge aquatic center project.

The cost of a master plan has been estimated at $146,000. While completing the plan, citizens will have ample opportunities to voice opinions and desires and will be surveyed as part of the planning effort.

Access to the existing pool is a priority, so the city will attempt to keep it open during the project.

CORRECTION

The story, "Council moves forward on sidewalk project" on page A1 of The Post's Sept. 20 edition, misrepresented the difference between the initial and revised cost of the sidewalk project. The difference is a balance of $600,000. The Post regrets the error.

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