City officials on Sept. 29 kicked off construction of an Oregon City Operations Complex at 13895 Fir St., the nearly 5-acre site of a former beverage distribution company's shuttered warehouse.
Oregon City's $12.8 million construction project has secured planning permission to proceed and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. City commissioners unanimously voted in 2018 to approve the $7.1 million purchase to create this development for the city's Operations Complex.
John Lewis, Oregon City's Public Works director, acknowledged that it's been a long road to groundbreaking, in a process fraught for years with controversy trying to expand at another location. Now city officials are hoping the investment provides the opportunity to return Public Works' current Center Street property to the tax rolls and resolve the question of Waterboard Park.
"The Operations Complex will house the Public Works Department, Engineering and Operations, and Parks Maintenance together and will create efficiencies, continuity and cost savings," Lewis said.
In 2018, a county judge determined that the current Public Works area was never dedicated as parkland, even if thought of as parkland by local residents. Neighbors had threatened to appeal the decision that would have cleared the way for construction at the site without a public vote, but another site on Fir Street was found for the expansion, just in time.
Oregon City has been saving funds, approximately $12.5 million, over 15 years to provide a modernized Public Works Operations Center. While both public works and parks departments provide important services, the old facilities were poorly located and ill equipped to keep up with Oregon City's growth, said City Commissioner Frank O'Donnell.
"The centralized location and size of this facility allow significant savings by downsizing the Parks Maintenance Facility, providing service efficiencies for both the present and future, while improving the quality of life by moving this facility from a residential neighborhood to an industrial area," O'Donnell said. "Prior planning and saving, combined with tireless efforts by the city staff and construction team who reviewed every aspect of the project has resulted in a project that will be delivered on time and under budget. My compliments to all involved."
Seismic reinforcements will be part of the renovations on Fir Street to protect emergency response personnel housed in its building. Modifications to the 26,000-square-foot office building will provide for a reception area, customer service counter, training room, conference room, enclosed offices, open workspaces, storage and break room.
Another more than 8,500 square-foot space will house a fleet workshop and vehicle wash-down area, indoor storage for material and equipment. Equipment involved with the construction, maintenance, and operation of the city's transportation network, sanitary sewer and storm water systems, and parks maintenance will have 51,000 square feet of covered storage areas.
The lot includes two 10,000-gallon fuel tanks with pumps, and all existing warehouse facilities are equipped with heat and fire suppression.
Although they fought the lawsuit, city officials had never been completely happy with the previous location for a Public Works expansion, which is a constrained site that would
With a lack of large parcels available for purchase, Oregon City worked to create a master plan for the current Public Works Operations Center, near Waterboard Park at 122 S. Center St. Building the operations center at the site next to the park would have cost more than $21 million, officials estimated.
PlanB Cost Consultancy LLC, Scott Edwards Architecture and Emerick Construction Company are under contract with the city to complete this Operation Complex project on Fir Street.
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