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Oak Harbor City Council approves more money for Pioneer Way

In a combined dual-action vote, the Oak Harbor City Council approved the second phase of the Pioneer Way revitalization project and five amendments to the original phase-two outline.

The April 6 decision authorized the mayor to give the city’s chosen consultant, Perteet Inc., the go-ahead for phase two for a maximum fee of $269,208. The five amendments tacked on an additional $162,544 for a total cost of $431,752.

Last November, the City Council approved a three-phase design contract with Perteet for $650,000. However, the newly approved amendments put all three phases at a new cost of $793,923.

One amendment caught the attention of more than one council member.

A $9,431 expense for a possible future contract with an outside consulting firm, EnviroIssues, sparked skepticism among some council members who questioned the need to budget for support of an unapproved contract.

The council planned to approve a $90,994.86 contract with EnviroIssues to improve communication between the city and downtown business owners. However, the City Council voted to move the discussion to a later date because the contract was unfinished.

The four remaining amendments are $94,271 for utility relocation; $17,050 for more parking, $14,890 for 3D models; and $26,902 for NEPA compliance, a requirement for any federally-funded project. City officials have applied for federal grants, but none have been awarded yet.

“So we’re approving something before it’s even used?” asked Councilman Jim Palmer in reference to the EnviroIssues amendment. Palmer’s major concern is that the project doesn’t get “financially out of control.”

Over the last two to three years, construction projects have come in under bid, City Engineer Eric Johnston said of a general trend in the industry.

“We’re not going to pay them for work they’re not doing,” Johnston said. “We’re saying all these elements can be done, but if we chose not to use it, then that’s an option, too.”

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