Saturday, December 2, 2017

Eureka City Council to Cast Crucial Waterfront Votes

Posted By on Sat, Dec 2, 2017 at 10:16 AM

click to enlarge A mock up of "Halvorsen Village." - FROM THE SCHNEIDER PROPOSAL.
  • From the Schneider Proposal.
  • A mock up of "Halvorsen Village."
The Eureka City Council is slated to meet Tuesday evening with a very long list of resolutions, ordinances and reports to discuss, many of which will immediately impact Eureka’s waterfront.

On the consent calendar, the council is expected to approve without discussion an item that would bridge the last remaining gap in Waterfront Drive, between G and J streets, which would “provide continuity in pedestrian and bicycle access along the city’s waterfront,” completing the Eureka portion of the Bay Trail. Once the city commits to funding the measure, it will be eligible for $735,000 from the State Transportation Improvement Program. The area would also be paved for vehicle access. It is also expected to authorize the city manager to grant $250,000 in Wastewater Reserves to install a pre-treatment system at the building currently occupied by Pacific Seafood, at 2 Commercial St.


Reached for comment, Eureka’s Public Works Director Brian Gerving said the new system represented a capital improvement for the property, which is owned by the city.

“It’s true that wastewater rates have gone up for all rate payers,” he told the Journal in a phone interview, adding that while residential customers are affected by the rate hike, businesses have been hit even harder. “[Pacific Choice] our largest wastewater customer, accounting for 10 percent of all wastewater consumption. They have experienced a more significant increase.”

Gerving attributes the huge wastewater consumption to the large amount of “organic content” in shrimp processing, and says the improvement will free up capacity at the city’s Elk River Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has been plagued by infrastructure issues for years. Staff is also asking for a continuance of “emergency contract procedures” regarding the treatment plant’s sludge detectors. The council first authorized those procedures Dec. 13, 2016, allowing the city manager to negotiate an up to $3 million agreement with a Walnut Creek engineering firm, Brown and Caldwell, to create new digester covers, $1 million for materials management and appropriate $1.5 million from the Wastewater Reserves to help pay for the cover repair.

Gerving confirmed the item has been on every agenda since its initial authorization, as the council has to continue renewing the emergency procedures until the work is completed. He said that the work will most likely be completed in the middle of next month, dependent on weather conditions.

Miles Slattery, Eureka’s parks and recreation director, signed off on a recommendation 
click to enlarge An illustration of Eureka's "first waterfront hotel." - FROM THE SCHNEIDER PROPOSAL
  • From the Schneider proposal
  • An illustration of Eureka's "first waterfront hotel."
that the council authorize staff to enter into agreements with T. Schneider Enterprises, Inc., a local company that has proposed a lease-to-buy option on two parcels east of Halvorsen Park for development and operation of an RV park and future mixed use development. Scheidner’s proposal describes a “modern facility, designed to accommodate RVing guests of all types, but especially those who wish to capitalize on the recreational opportunities available in close proximity to the park.” It also includes sketches of a mixed-use area, "Halvorsen Village,"  that would include “the first waterfront hotel in Eureka …. retail, commercial and office space,” as well as some residential options.

In his recommendation, Slattery said the income from the lease option was necessary to support the Harbor Division’s debts and operational costs.

The council will also vote on some police department position modifications that include eliminating several currently vacant positions, reclassifying others and freezing at least one patrol officer position, saving an estimated $127,247 per year, according to Personnel Analyst Will Folger, who prepared the report. Much of the savings would go back into employee retention efforts.

EPD Chief Steve Watson confirmed that the department is currently down "nine police officers and a sergeant.” Watson said he would focus future hiring efforts on attracting officers from lateral positions and that the department plans to add a new specialty position in 2018, a rotating Parks/Waterfront Officer position that “will proactively patrol our now expansive waterfront trail systems and green belt areas, as well as our parks.” When he took over the department, Watson added a $5,000 signing bonus for entry level police officers bonus and a $15,000 bonus for lateral police officers, both with three-year contracts.

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Linda Stansberry

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Linda Stansberry is a staff writer of the North Coast Journal.

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