Round-up: Newberg City Council OKs new police cars, will consider street seat program

While the Newberg City Council spent about six hours in session last week – at least a third of that discussing a project on Villa Road that would eliminate two oak trees – the council managed to approve a number of actions and upcoming projects.

Among the approved projects is an agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation for a multimodal upgrade of North College Street, adding bike lanes and a sidewalk for an expected cost of nearly $2.7 million.

While ODOT is expected to cover 90 percent of that cost, councilors still expressed skepticism, citing the last such agreement on College Street when the city was only slated to cover 10 percent and ended up covering 40 percent.

"We did not have good luck last time, like really, really bad luck," said Councilor Denise Bacon. "Hopefully we'll be watching them like a hawk every step of the way because after last time I don't trust this kind of deal at all anymore."

The agreement would allocate nearly $2.4 million to the project through the state's Multimodal Transportation Enhancement Program, with the city responsible for a 10.27 percent match of about $274,000.

The project would add bike lanes to either side of the street and a sidewalk on the west side of the road, along with other improvements, with design to occur this fiscal year and construction to start in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The project would run from Aldercrest Drive to just south of Foothills Drive.

The catch, City Engineer Kaaren Hofmann explained, is that the city would be responsible for any additional costs that arise beyond the $2.7 million costs estimated right now.

During a similar contract on College Street work, city staff explained that the city spent nearly $500,000 more than it had planned, due t increased costs due to a wetlands issue and the state changing its right-of-way acquisition process.

Hofmann said ODOT would not give the city a hard limit on its contribution but is now allowing the city to scale back the project at particular points in order to keep it within budget.

She noted that "we will be watching very closely in monitoring the project, probably way more closely than they will ever want to see us monitor."

The council also approved the city's recommendation to extend the "Street Seats" pilot program for two years.

Although the program has only seen one participant – a street seat built at Ruddick/Wood restaurant– staff saw that as a successful test and requested the council extend the pilot to include more participants before making a decision on whether to permanently implement the program.

In other more minor fiscal matters, the council approved purchasing two new Newberg-Dundee Police Department patrol vehicles at a total cost of about $61,000 and adjusted the language around the monthly stipend allocated to the mayor.

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