The Cottage Grove City Council groped for answers during its regular session Monday night regarding a construction mistake within the Safe Routes to School project that may cost the city as much as $58,365.
The issue was brought to the attention of city staff two weeks ago by Wildish Construction when it became apparent that the gutters and entrances to three corners of the intersection at South Eighth Street and Taylor Avenue handicap ramps were lower than the adjacent street elevation.
At certain points, the road was measured to be more than eight inches off.
Mayor Jeff Gowing expressed his astonishment at the magnitude of the mistake during the meeting.
“I can’t believe the guys would lay those sidewalks and not have raised a red flag looking at the street,” he said. “It really bothers me getting that quality of workmanship.”
City Engineer Ron Bradsby explained to the council two possible options proposed by the project’s design engineer at Branch Engineering, namely major road reconstruction by regrading and repaving or doing grade breaks about four feet out into the street.
A grade break is a point at which two planes of different grades intersect.
Wildish Construction estimated the street reconstruction option costing around $58,000 and the grade break option around $23,000.
However, the construction company stated about the latter option that it “would result in a very rough ride through the intersection and not be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant at the crosswalks.”
Staff thus recommended that the city council opt for the more expensive choice of regrading and repaving.
However, it was noted that the reconstruction option won’t necessarily bring the ramps into ADA compliance, either.
“I won’t guarantee we’ll get there, but we’ll be a lot closer,” Bradsby told the council.
If compliance is not met, the city must document reasons why it cannot meet the standards. Bradsby said the hillside and elevation differences would likely present good reasoning for this, but it is still something to be addressed and analyzed.
Councilor Greg Ervin asked if it would be cheaper to simply raise the sidewalks and leave the street alone.
Bradsby said it may be cheaper, but grant funding for the Safe Routes to School project requires making sidewalks ADA compliant. Redoing the sidewalks to fit the street may bring them out of compliance.
However, it was “definitely an option,” Bradsby said.
Councilor Mike Fleck felt the project should not be delayed more than it already has been and favored the staff’s recommendation to regrade and repave.
“The difference of $30,000 is a lot of money, but as far as roads go, it’s just a blip,” said Fleck “And I think doing it right, at this point, makes much more sense than doing it partway.”
Bradsby and the city council also discussed responsibility and reimbursement.
The city engineer said he was currently executing a process of elimination to find answers and added that if someone is found to be at fault for the mistake, he agreed there should be some kind of settlement or reimbursement.
To begin with, Bradsby said he is checking with Wildish Construction to see if the intersection was built to design specifications.
“If it’s built right, then I have to sit down with the design team and talk about the intersection and what they looked at,” he said. “We have some work to do to clear up why we got here and how we got there and to address the problem.”
Fleck was in favor of finding answers, but proposed handling reimbursement issues after fixing the problem.
“Let’s worry about the funding and who’s responsible later,” he said. “I think the option for us at this point is to redo this and do it right. And then we can worry about who’s going to reimburse us.”
However, councilors Ervin and Candace Solesbee felt that the city should postpone a vote and seek options and answers in the meantime. An expedient answer from the responsible party, Ervin reasoned, may allow the city to avoid spending the money in the first place.
Fleck said he was agreeable to postponing as well.
In the end, the council agreed to shelve the issue until the next council session in order to make a more informed decision.
There are still future change order items that will be coming before council estimated at $123,819.
Bradsby reported that the city has spent $4.1 million of its budgeted $5.5 million for street improvements and other utility reserves.
Judge pro tempore
The council approved the appointment of Jesse London as municipal court judge pro tempore. London was recommended by Municipal Court Judge Martin Fisher and will serve in Fisher’s absence.
Though the city has already approved one pro tem judge, Fisher submitted that a second would increase the likelihood of judge availability.
The City of Cottage Grove does not pay pro tem judges. Fisher is to arrange for any compensation between a pro tem judge and himself.
London has previously worked as a pro tem prosecutor for the city and is currently a pro tem judge for Veneta and a prosecutor in Coburg and Florence.
Councilor Ervin added that he contacted the Oregon State Bar and found London to be in good standing with no disciplinary action.
Pegasus Equestrian Resort & Venue
Representatives from the Pegasus Equestrian Resort and Venue presented the Cottage Grove City Council with plans for a project that is currently being proposed at the I-5 Metz Hill exit about 30 miles south of Cottage Grove in Douglas County.
More than 2,800 acres at the Heaven’s Gate Ranch are being dedicated to an ambitious equestrian venue which is anticipated to impact tourism traffic in the surrounding area, including Cottage Grove.
The resort would be the destination for equestrian competitors and spectators on a “statewide, national and international level,” according to the group’s presentation.
It will include up to five indoor climate-controlled arenas, numerous outdoor grass and sand arenas, a dedicated combined driving course, an equestrian cross-country course, four full size grass polo fields and a resort/spa.
The project is expected to take two to three years to build once preliminary approval is given by Douglas County.
Preliminary approval could come in the spring of 2021 after a public hearing by the Douglas County Planning Commission.
Construction is estimated to begin sometime in 2022.
A majority of Cottage Grove city councilors voted to present a letter of support for the project.
The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for March 22, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to protect the more vulnerable members of the community, the City of Cottage Grove is holding public meetings virtually.
Links to these virtual meetings can be found on the city’s website at cottagegroveor.gov and require downloading a GoToMeetings app.
Attendees are encouraged to witness the meetings online or by phone, though anyone who cannot access the meeting online or by phone can attend the meeting in person in the Council Chambers at Cottage Grove City Hall.
In order to follow social distancing guidelines from LCPH, the City Council Chambers will be limited to 10 people at a time.
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