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Council OKs plan for Charbonneau improvements


A funding source for the plan is still undetermined

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Aging Charbonneau stormwater mains largely consist of corrugated piping below grates like these. Those pipes have badly corroded in spots, resulting in the need for tens of millions of dollars in repairs in coming years. That will now be addressed by the Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan, approved Aug. 4 by the Wilsonville City Council. The Wilsonville City Council has adopted a $44.5 million plan that outlines about two decades worth of infrastructure improvements for Charbonneau. Now, officials need to settle on a way to pay for it.

One funding option the council has discussed are bonds backed by utility fees.

Charbonneau residents have been concerned that the cost of the improvements would fall on their shoulders entirely.

“It’s fairly new to them, and they’re very much concerned about disruption when the work is done. But also how this will be paid for,” Tony Holt, who lives in Charbonneau, said to the council. “In the end, it’s a question of fairness. And I do hope in the end, when you come to approve this, and you look at the funding that it will be on a citywide basis.”

The council seems to agree that the expense of the improvements at Charbonneau — along with that of future infrastructure upgrades in other Wilsonville Neighborhoods — should be shared citywide.

Based on city studies of four primary utilities — stormwater, wastewater, water and roads — the Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan divides Charbonneau into 38 zones. Each is ranked according to urgency of need, so the most severely damaged areas would be slated for repair first.

“I think this is a critical thing to be doing on a timeline that’s feasible,” City Councilor Susie Stevens said. “And I want to emphasize how much I appreciate putting it in a way we can really wrap our arms around in terms of thinking about the most critical pieces and working our way through to where the infrastructure in that community is long lasting and sustainable.”

Mayor Tim Knapp says evaluating city infrastructure is an ongoing priority for the council.

“This is exactly what being proactive on infrastructure looks like,” Knapp said. “And this is what the council has been asking staff to do ... the fact that it’s a large amount of work upcoming is something we’re far better off knowing now then discovering as things fail unexpectedly in the future.”

The Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan ultimately will consist of amendments to the city’s capital improvement plan, as well as changes to various utility systems master plans.

One of Oregon’s first planned communities, construction in Charbonneau started in 1972 and continued into the ‘80s.

Since then, standards for infrastructure — and the materials used to build it — have been improved, said Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar.

“The infrastructure is aging,” Kraushaar told the city council at a July 7 work session. “We’ve gotten better at how we do construction and the types of materials we use. We’ve really gotten better as time goes on, and that’s really the story for Charbonneau, as well.”

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Charbonneau water system is less impacted by the Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan, but still will undergo millions of dollars worth of renovations. Improvements to stormwater infrastructure is by far the most pressing need for Charbonneau, according to initial studies. Of the total $44.5 million estimated cost of the Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan, some $19.6 million of that is earmarked for stormwater infrastructure.

In the upcoming weeks, the City Council will consider adopting the projects from the Charbonneau Consolidated Improvement Plan to each of the utility master plans. Upon adoption, the resulting capital improvement plans will guide future rate studies to fund the design and construction of these projects. The projects will then be incorporated into future annual budgets.