The building is one of several city-owned buildings that needs to be retrofitted in case of a major incident

GARY ALLEN - The city of Newberg received a $815,000 grant from the state to help pay for seismic upgrades to the building.

The city of Newberg is moving ahead with plans to retrofit the Public Safety Building on South Howard Street to withstand a major seismic event.

The City Council, meeting Dec. 17, approved a professional service agreement with WRK Engineers to design an updated public safety building. Public Works Director Jay Harris said the city chose to update the building first after conducting a city-wide survey two years ago that found that all city buildings are not adequately ready for a major natural disaster. Harris also said with the potential looming for a significant earthquake to hit the Pacific Coast, it's important for the public safety building to be upgraded since it houses emergency dispatch and the city's 9-1-1 center.

"We made the choice that the public safety building would be the first to be upgraded," Harris said.

He added that if a magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 earthquake were to hit the Oregon coast, as is predicted, for several minutes it would cause significant problems to the city's buildings.

"We have significant critical infrastructure that needs to remain operational," Harris said.

An $815,000 grant from the state helped pay for the design work, Harris said, and once work begins the building will remain operational. Most of the work will involve bracing the walls and making improvements to the roof, he added.

"The grant funding helps significantly," Harris said.

WRK engineers will design the project, which includes engineering design, bid and construction phase services for just under $85,000.

WRK's cost was 10 percent of a Business Oregon grant. The city's finance department will request a supplemental budget to cover the full cost of the project because it was added after the 2018-2019 fiscal budget was adopted. The state will reimburse the city for the full design and construction costs up to the $815,687.

Once that project is done, Harris said the city will begin moving forward on other city-owned structure, such as the public works building and the water treatment plant. The public works building can't be retrofitted, he said, so it will require an all-out replacement. He said buildings such as the Newberg Public Library and city hall will undergo seismic upgrades further down the road.

"This is all a leapfrog type of process," Harris said.

This comes after the city sought to partner with local churches to prepare in case of a major natural disaster. City Manager Joe Hannan sought to work with the city's 35 churches, as most city residents live close to one, and he's been working to ensure the churches have the equipment they need to help community members should a disaster hit.

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