Flush with $8.8 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Lake Oswego City Council agreed to allocate that money toward construction projects, a nonprofit grant program and to Habitat for Humanity for affordable housing during a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18.
ARPA, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden last March, allocated $1.9 trillion in relief funds to help states suffering economic and health impacts resulting from the pandemic. There was $350 billion distributed to local governments throughout the nation.
The council had already approved general recommendations during a September meeting but greenlighted a more fine-tuned proposal on Tuesday.
This includes spending $1.4 million for Lakeview Boulevard street and drainage improvements, $2 million for power generation to support the city's water system, $800,000 to Habitat for Humanity, $600,000 for the nonprofit grant program and $350,000 for a McVey/Stafford Corridor Analysis.
Prior to the unanimous approval of the motion, city staff provided the council the option of spending the money for the Lakeview Boulevard project or more general pathway projects, and the council agreed with the staff's recommendation to pick the former. Civil Engineer Erica Rooney said that the ARPA money had to be spent by 2026 and she felt that the pathway project idea, which would require extensive design and public outreach, could leave the city in a time crunch to do so in part because Public Works staff is currently understaffed by nine people. And she said the allocating money for the Lakeview project would provide relief for the city's stormwater fund.
"Our storm fund is the most in need. It has the least amount of funds and resources, so anything we can do to offset the storm fund would be advantageous to allowing us to do other storm fund projects," she said.
Rooney added that last February's ice storm resulted in the city thinking through ways to protect its water system and staff determined that on-site generation and plug-ins were needed. The city of Tigard, which shares its water system with Lake Oswego, may also allocate money for this project, Rooney added.
The Habitat for Humanity money will go toward the organization's development of a 26-lot affordable housing project on Boones Ferry Road near West Sunset Drive. The grant money will be delivered to nonprofits that support tourism and hospitality as well as those that support residents in Lake Oswego, Management Analyst Charity Taylor said. She added that the city wants to remove barriers to applying and will conduct public outreach.
The McVey/Stafford project, Rooney said, would be a "high-level analysis" of potential improvements to pedestrian crossings, pedestrian and bike facilities and signals.
City wants more analysis to be done before tolling is approved
Lake Oswego City Council wants the state to pump the brakes on tolling plans — as it made clear during a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18. In an unanimously approved resolution, the council called for the completion of the Regional Mobility Pricing Project prior to the decision of whether to toll I-205, and for Abernethy Bridge improvements to potentially be allocated using other funds.
The regional pricing project, which is a yet-to-be completed plan for tolling throughout the state, may not be finalized for a few years. At the same time, the state has identified tolling as the way in which it plans to pay for the I-205 improvements, including replacing the bridge and widening I-205 from four to six lanes.
Some of the concerns the city has about the current approach to tolling include: the impacts of traffic diverting onto local roads, opposition from the community, a lack of viable transportation alternatives and possible adverse impacts to diverse and low-income communities.
The council advocated for the Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro to conduct "an extensive public campaign and interagency coordination to increase public acceptance of user fees and congestion," to evaluate funding for the first phase of the bridge project and develop a working group to assess and respond to potential impacts to communities from tolling, among other things.
ODOT recently tabled its decision on whether to toll I-5 and I-205 in the next five years.
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