In an unusual twist, several residents of a waterfront neighborhood did not complain about a revelation that Oak Harbor officials are looking at building a $93.5-million sewage treatment plant in their backyard.
In fact, they urged the city to investigate the possibility.
Tuesday night, the Oak Harbor City Council approved an amendment to a contract with Carollo Engineers, a consulting firm, for field investigation of several sites in the vicinity of Windjammer Park, the city’s large waterfront park.
One of the sites that will be looked at is a large tract of undeveloped property on Beeksma Drive, next to the Dillard’s Addition neighborhood.
The property had been thrown out of consideration early in the process of finding a site, for an unclear reason, but is back in contention after owner Carl Freund called the mayor and proposed that the land would be a good fit.
Two residents of Dillard’s Addition, both of whom are known for being outspoken on a separate sewage-related issue, spoke at the meeting in favor of exploring the possibility.
Duane Dillard said he’s not against the idea, though he needs to know more details.
“I think this would be least impactive of all the things I can think of that could go there,” he said, referring to the treatment plant.
Robyn Kolaitis said that she was involved in the process of picking a site for the treatment plant. She said she proposed Freund’s property early in the process, but was told by city staff that it couldn’t be so near a residential area; she said that didn’t make sense since another site considered was also near homes.
“I’m glad to see it come up again,” she said. “I hope you take the time to really investigate it.”
Tuesday, Councilman Jim Campbell complained about a new site being looked at after the council already made a decision. The council had focused on a commercial site on Pioneer Way, specifically the site of a former Chevrolet dealership where Pioneer Automotive Services is currently located.
Councilwoman Tara Hizon, however, pointed out that the council’s decision was to investigate properties in the Windjammer vicinity and the Freund property qualifies as such.
Public Works Director Cathy Rosen explained that the contract amendment will allow Carollo to do field investigations on several sites to help determine which would be best. The work will include soil borings and archaeological work.
If the Freund property passes muster, Rosen said, then they would have to do more in-depth work on the site, including “triple bottom line plus technical analysis and public vetting,” which the Pioneer Way property already went through.