Seth Atkinson sees progress in Sandy City Council goals

by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Sandys new water reservoir will be able to hold 1 million gallons of water purchased wholesale from the city of Portland. The council hopes construction will be finished in February 2014.

With a previous career in finance, Sandy City Manager Seth Atkinson has a fascination for finance and numbers. He hopes to get the ball rolling on an online citizen survey and database to help with the city's budget process, a program he giddily presented to City Council members at a Dec. 10 workshop.

Atkinson — who was appointed city manager in August when Scott Lazenby left the job — previously was the city’s finance director for six years. He said it was really just a duty shift because he already knew the projects and the people.

“I couldn’t imagine coming into this position and not already having that base,” Atkinson said.

Though his goals are essentially the goals of the council, Atkinson thinks they are making considerable progress. “Most of the council goals require time,” he said. “It’s not a next day term. We’re going to keep working toward these things.”

One of these goals has finally seen some progress, to the happiness of all of the City Council members, including Mayor Bill King.

At the council meeting Monday, Dec. 16, the council passed a motion to allow the city manager to sign a contract with OFS Fitel Services International for construction and set-up of the Fiber to the Home project, an Internet hard-lining system to replace the current wireless system in place.

This goal has been many years coming — difficulties in the past have delayed it, but with this next step, the project can finally get rolling.

The city plans to finance this project itself, and is working with financial planners to get that financing. The contract speculates that the construction plan would not take effect until the city has the funds for the project. The city hopes to have the funding by February 2014.

“Once that money is in the bank, we say go and they go,” Atkinson said.

Right now, the city is hopeful that it will work. The plan is to have Sandy residents sign up before construction begins in neighborhoods. The city does not expect that everyone will want to sign up at the beginning, but the goal is to remain a cheap and fast Internet option for the community.

The city wants to offer the service for around $40 a month, and the more who take it, the cheaper it could become.

“We’re not in it to make a profit,” said Atkinson, who is excited about the project. “We’re in it to provide a service.”

Once construction begins, it should be about a nine-month process. Atkinson said the council hopes the project will be completed by the end of 2014.

The other council goal that Atkinson has seen making some progress is the new water reservoir. Sandy has always had only a single water source, and with growing populations the city knew it would need a new source soon. In 2008, the city entered into a wholesale water supply agreement with the city of Portland. In March 2013, construction began on a connection to Bull Run reservoir to a new 1-million-gallon reservoir. Construction should be finished in February 2014.

“The hairy part’s all done,” Atkinson said. “They had to tear up Bluff Road, but they were able to repave and get it looking nice again.”

Atkinson and the City Council continue to work on other goals as well. The council is working to find a funding solution for the Sandy Main Street organization. It is also working to put together a couple dog parks; the land is ready, but the funds are lacking.

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