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Oak Harbor working on $6 million in projects

The city of Oak Harbor is moving ahead with $6 million worth of projects, although finding Waldo could prove easier than locating the sites.

City staff took members of the new Public Works Standing Committee on a tour of the work sites last Wednesday afternoon to give them a first-hand look at how taxpayers’ money is being spent. City Council members Rick Almberg and Beth Munns, who serve on the committee with chair Danny Paggao, surveyed the work with City Engineer Eric Johnston, Public Works Director Cathy Rosen, and Civil Engineer Russ Pabarcus.

Construction is already underway on the project that will ultimately extend the section of Bayshore Drive next to Whidbey Island Bank to Beeksma Drive. C. Johnson Construction employees are transforming plans that previously existed only on paper into reality.

The Bayshore Drive extension was among the projects identified in the city’s list of six-year capital projects.

Before a road materializes, the less glamorous work will ensue. Storm drain utility work precedes water utility work which precedes grading for precise street elevation. The Bayshore section of the project will reach its denouement with the paving of the street.

“We’ll come back to get the sidewalks, curbs and gutter,” said Johnston.

As part of the undertaking, the west side of Beeksma Drive will also undergo reconstructive surgery with the addition of sidewalks on the portion perpendicular to Bayshore.

“We’ll cut off the section where the existing sidewalk ends and straighten it out,” Johnston said.

The city engineer said the contractors have a 60-day construction schedule. At 20 days of work per month, the project should be completed by late June.

Improvements are also currently being made to the Seaplane Base Lagoon Treatment Plant. A new headworks structure is being constructed and the city is armoring perimeter dikes with riprap to offer protection from the plant.

The city has been working feverishly to get the system in place before the Navy floods the area with saltwater to restore salmon habitat. Tidal activity will return to the area after the flooding.

A second stretch of PVC pipe was recently installed to help bear the wastewater burden.

“We put in the second siphon line now, knowing that we won’t get a permit once the saltwater is there,” Johnston said.

The city is waiting to complete construction on a cylindrical grit chamber that will work in conjunction with new bar screens and the existing systems grinder to remove more debris from the water before being transferred to an anaerobic cell, Pabarcus said at the site. Bugs break down organic material in the oxygen-devoid, sealed area and then the journey continues into the aerobic area and finally to Crescent Harbor where the discharge meets permit demands.

The council authorized the project on leased land in October and work began the following month. The Seaplane Base does account for a percentage of the discharge, but Pabarcus said the city is the primary wastewater producer.

Almberg asked about the comparative viability and costs between the Seaplane plant and the once-considered site at Windjammer Park.

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