City of Othello and CBHA still need to reach an agreement

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OTHELLO — The City of Othello and Columbia Basin Health Association (CBHA) are not any closer to reaching an agreement on the construction of Columbia Street than they were a month ago.

Anne Henning, Othello Community Development Director, gave a brief history of the construction of the CBHA facility and the issue with Columbia Street. When the building was approved, the agreement was that CBHA would build Columbia Street as well. Due to issues with the sewer construction along the street, CBHA was given a temporary occupancy permit with the knowledge that they would have to complete the road before given a permanent occupancy permit. The sewer project was finished in 2018, yet the road has not been built.

Fire code dictates that CBHA must have two access points. One of the those access points is onto 14th Avenue. The other is Columbia Street, which is currently gravel and isn’t up to the standards set by the city or fire code.

Othello attorney Kelly Konkright reported that he had talked to the CBHA attorney and that there isn’t an agreement currently that CBHA will sign. He said that CBHA only wants to build half the street while the city wants them to build the whole street.

A public hearing on the CBHA Columbia Street project was started on Feb. 25. It was tabled for March 11, when it was again tabled for Monday evening. Due to the lack of an agreement between the city and CBHA, it was tabled again for April 22. Konkright recommended that a meeting between the attorneys, the city streets committee the city council and CBHA be arranged to discuss the issue and to come to an agreement.

City council member Maria Quezada recused herself from the issue due to a conflict of interest. Quezada is on the CBHA board.

In other business, the city council approved the installation of irrigation for phase two of the Sagestone 8 subdivision. During the first phase of the installation, the city reimbursed Olsen Homes, LLC for the irrigation lines that they installed for the city during construction. The council agreed to ask Olsen Homes to install the lines again, with reimbursement.

When asked why the irrigation lines should be installed at the same time as the construction of the subdivision, Othello City Engineer Shawn O’Brien told the council that it was easier to install when the contractor was already on site and installing other lines. While the irrigation lines aren’t buried very deep, installers would still have to work around existing utilities. O’Brien also noted that there was nothing in the developer agreement saying that Olsen Homes had to work with the city. However, he did say that they worked with the city on the first phase of the project.

The city council agreed that they would like to work with Olsen Homes again on the irrigation lines and requested that a cost figure for reimbursement of the project be provided.

O’Brien presented council with a request to approve the installation of a pump on Well 3R. He said that the project started as an emergency project, but as of yet a pump as not been installed. O’Brien requested that council approve the necessary money to get the pump up and operating for the summer so the city won’t run short on water. In the fall, the rest of the project will be sent out for bid. The council approved the proposal.

The council approved the creation and posting of a new engineering technician position that was not previously in the budget. O’Brien said the new technician would work with him, allowing the city to do more work in house, saving the city money in the long term. The payment of the technician will depend on the candidate’s qualifications.

Othello City Council also approved $100,000 of previously collected tax money to crack seal streets in Othello. The tax money was previously allocated for city road repairs. O’Brien said that he is looking to do the streets in the southeast quadrant of town, citing that they have are in pretty bad shape and that those streets have gone the longest time without being crack sealed. He noted that spring is the best time to repair the roads as weeds are not yet established and cracks are at their widest.

Prairie Land Surveying was granted an on-call contract. Othello Mayor Shawn Logan reported that the owner, James Keyes, has been doing surveying in the Columbia Basin for “the better part of 40 years.” When surveying services are needed, a contract for services will be presented to council.

Logan updated the council on the progress of the funds for the engineering design for a waste treatment facility. The City of Othello has requested $425,000 in funds from the state. As of Monday, the Washington House of Representatives had approved the request. It still needs to pass the Senate and be approved by the governor. Logan said that getting through the house was “a good sign” and that the request still has “a way to go.”

Logan also told the council that the city has been approved for $350,000 from the state for improvement of the Lions Park youth athletic field, with specific intentions to improve the quality of the field through leveling the field, adding a drainage system and putting in new batters’ boxes, making the bathrooms ADA-compliant and making an ADA serving area at the concession stand. The city has committed between $75,000 and $100,000 to the project.

Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at rpinkerton@suntribunenews.com.

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