Another park access offered

Oak Harbor city staff is recommending a third option for an access road to a planned regional park.

Oak Harbor city staff is recommending a third option for an access road to a planned regional park in the north end of the city.

Determining a route to Harbor Heights Sports Complex has been an oddly contentious issue between the council, city administration and staff this year. The council twice directed the staff that the access should be from Gun Club Road.

At a workshop meeting earlier this month, however, Interim Public Works Director Mick Monken gave the council a couple of more options to consider. He said the staff did a study of other road access routes and is recommending the extension of Northwest 16th Avenue from Heller Road to the new park.

“There’s a lot less to be concerned on of impacts to residents,” he said, “impacts to environment because we would be constructing in an unimproved area and can control that rather than potentially impacting residential properties.”

Not everyone, however, was convinced.

Councilmember Joel Servatius questioned Monken extensively about the study and brought up concerns about how access would affect parking within the park.

“There are still considerations I don’t think were factored in here,” he said.

The city purchased a 75-acre property last year to build a regional park that is eventually proposed to include six soccer fields, two multipurpose fields, four Little League fields, four softball fields, one baseball field, a building with restrooms and concessions, a wetland area, a playground and a perimeter trail.

A city engineer set a high-level estimate for the entire park at $60.7 million.

The council passed a resolution setting the access as Gun Club Road, but in May some council members became upset that the city administration and staff changed it to Northwest Elwha Street; staff was concerned that work needed on Gun Club Road would delay the project and jeopardize a grant.

The council, however, was concerned about the traffic to and from the park disrupting the Elwha Street neighborhood, and the staff agreed to proceed with Gun Club Road.

Then in June, council members refused, in a 4-3 vote, to pay for the consultant’s study comparing Gun Club Road and Elwha Street access to the park. They did not approve the study beforehand and objected to being asked to fund it after the fact.

Monken said staff looked into other options because concerns persisted with the Gun Club Road entrance. The analysis found that rebuilding Gun Club Road to the necessary standards would be the least expensive among three options at an estimated $2.57 million.

On the other hand, he said the Gun Club Road option would impact about 20 homes that currently access the road and the construction would be more complex. The project could be delayed since Gun Club Road would be the only access to the park and, therefore, access would be limited during construction.

The analysis looked at access on Northeast 16th Avenue from the Oak Harbor Road side, but it would require the purchase of right-of-way on 10 parcels at a cost of nearly $1 million.

The staff’s recommendation to extend Northeast 16th Avenue from Heller Road would cost slightly more than the Gun Club Road option at $3.12 million, but it wouldn’t have any of the other concerns, Monken said.

No neighborhoods would be impacted, he said, and the design and construction would be simpler.

The council did not make a final decision at the workshop.