Two consulting firms will help the city of Oak Harbor decide where to build the new $93.5-million wastewater treatment plant.
Oak Harbor City Council approved separate professional services agreements last week with an archaeological firm and a company that provides real estate and property services.
City officials are concerned about the possibility of finding cultural resources while building the treatment plant.
Workers unearthed a Native American burial ground during construction on Pioneer Way two years ago, which has cost the city millions of dollars.
Site of the new wastewater treatment plant is just blocks away.
Last year, the City Council voted to site the plant in the general vicinity of the Windjammer Park area. Officials focused on a number of commercial property on the south side of Pioneer Way.
The city signed a professional services agreement with Equinox Research and Consulting International. It’s the same firm that was hired to deal with the cultural remains from the road construction project.
The contract is for $14,000, with a management reserve of $2,000.
City Engineer Joe Stowell said the firm will develop a “sensitivity map” of the area based on existing studies, archival research and a pedestrian survey.
The company will also screen sediments from excavations at four test areas, two for each proposed site.
In addition, the council also approved a contract with Fullerton and Associates at a cost of $16,500, plus a management reserve of $3,500.
The firm specializes in right-of-way acquisition and relocation services. City officials decided to hire the real-estate experts because the sites being considered are all privately owned; council members have said they want to avoid using eminent domain to force property owners to sell.
Stowell said the firm will review maps and property data; coordinate with an appraiser; prepare a “fair offer letter” to begin negotiations; and other work related to the identification and purchase of the preferred site.
Stowell said the city plans to hold a charette with stakeholders and the community this summer to help identify the right property.
Under the current timeline, the site is supposed to be finalize by the end of September.