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City hopes to replace its approximately 50-year-old 'glorified garage' but needs permission to borrow funds.

This November, Gladstone voters are being asked to consider a ballot measure to authorize replacement of the city's approximately 50-year-old Public Works building without raising taxes.

Gladstone's City Charter mandates voter approval to incur debt or to construct any public building that costs $1 million or more. Voters recently authorized both of these provisions to construct Gladstone's new police station/City Hall building that was completed in 2020.COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF GLADSTONE - Gladstone's Public Works facility, 18595 Portland Ave., is proposed for replacement pending a ballot measure in November.Tammy Stempel

Located on Portland Avenue, the Public Works building is designated as a critical facility to "protect citizens, critical facilities, infrastructure, private property and the environment from natural hazards" but doesn't meet FEMA standards for emergencies like last February's ice storm. The building lost power for four days, making access difficult to equipment and supplies, forcing city employees to work from their vehicles to address problems with streets, sewers and water lines.COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF GLADSTONE - Gladstone's Public Works facility, constructed circa 1970, is not approved by FEMA for emergency responders.

"For 50 years, our Public Works staff have been living in a glorified garage," said Mayor Tammy Stempel.

City Councilor Randy Ripley added that Public Works employees are first responders who are important to support police officers and firefighters during emergencies.

McKenzie architects and engineers recently determined that constructing a new building at the same site, which is already owned by the city, would be more cost-effective than rehabilitating Gladstone's existing building.

To finance the replacement building, Gladstone officials hope to borrow funding that would be repaid over the years from already budgeted monies in the city's water, sewer and parks funds. City officials say that historic low interest rates offer a "unique opportunity" to borrow funds at the lowest possible rate. The project would also provide savings of $500 per month for the rental of a temporary modular building that currently houses staff on-site.

If approved, the replacement building is expected to be constructed and placed in operation by 2023.

Voters' Pamphlets and ballots going to Gladstone voters this month will contain two statements on the measure, one neutral statement from the city, along with an advocacy statement from the union representing city employees. No one submitted a Voters' Pamphlet statement against the measure.

Fred Yungbluth Jr. of AFSCME Local 350 wrote in the pamphlet that Gladstone employees "work tirelessly" to keep the city functioning.

"When emergencies and disasters hit, having a secure and safe facility is paramount to allow city workers to tackle the problems facing the city," Yungbluth wrote. "They would welcome a new and safer location to be better prepared to not only do the day-to-day work of the city but be on the forefront responding from a facility with continual power, in a location that is safe from flooding and is prepared for the emergencies of the future."

An informational website to assist voters in understanding the measure is available at ci.gladstone.or.us/publicworks/project/public-works-facility-ballot-measure-3-570.


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