Oak Harbor looks at sewer plant site next to Dillard’s

City leaders may consider a site for the new, $93.5-million sewage treatment plant that was never seriously examined before.

The difficult and long-standing issue of siting the treatment plant seemed to have been resolved in August when City Council members voted to build it in the vicinity of Windjammer Park. They were focused on the Pioneer Way property where the Pioneer Automotive Services building is located.

But Mayor Scott Dudley said he then received a call from Carl Freund, who suggested that his property off Beeksma Drive, on the other side of the park, would be an optimal site. Dudley quickly agreed that it should be looked at.

“I don’t know why it was never considered before,” Dudley said, “but this is the largest and most expensive project the city has ever done, so we need to get it right.”

The City Council will consider amending a contract with Carollo, the firm leading the project, at the Tuesday, Oct. 16 meeting.

The proposed amendment would allow the company to do topographical and geotechnical work on several sites within the area of Windjammer Park, including the Freund property.

Dudley said this property appears to have everything city leaders were looking for and has the potential of saving a lot of money. The parcel is near the discharge site, large, undeveloped and on the market.

In addition, he said the council members are in agreement that the property should be examined. The council recently held an executive session on the issue of land acquisition.

Councilwoman Beth Munns said Friday that she agrees the site should be considered.

“I think it all needs to be looked at so we are as absolutely sure as we can be,” she said. “It’s an expensive project and we need to be diligent.”

But there are potential pitfalls. The property is adjacent to the waterfront neighborhood known as Dillard’s Addition.

Freund said in an interview this week that he was told by city officials the property was taken out of consideration early in the process, possibly because it is located in a federal floodplain.

He said that designation may make it harder for the city to get federal grants for the project, though the city wasn’t counting on anything from the federal government. He said much of the Windjammer area is in a federal floodplain, including the current sewer plant inside the park.

The site is currently zoned residential. It’s located across the road from the current RV park and just south of the wetlands. Freund said he had planned to develop it when the market turns around, but is willing to sell it to the city.


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