N. End Reservoir bids come in over engineers' estimate

ATV club asks Oroville to open up its roads

OROVILLE – The preliminary results of the bid to construct a new water reservoir north of Oroville has come in higher than what the city’s engineers, Varella and Associates, had estimated.

“The bids for the north end water reservoir have come in a lot higher than the engineer’s estimate of $425 to $450 thousand,” said City Clerk Kathy Jones. ” “The low bid was $562,000 and with a funding for $519, which includes a reserve and $82,000 for the engineers, it won’t cover what we wanted to do.”

The city is planning on building a water reservoir to serve the north end water system north of the city limits. The move was to ensure water in the system, especially now the new U.S. Border Patrol Station has become part of the system and has fire suppression sprinklers that could result in a rapid drawdown of water. The federal government is paying for the construction of the reservoir.

“The bids go from a high of $704,500 to a low of $557,300. The engineer really underestimated the costs of the reservoir, they’re off by over 20 percent. It makes it tough on the city. We had a contingency fund in the original estimates, but there none at this level.”

The city rejected the bids and will look at ways it might lower cost of construction, as well as approach the federal government about additional funding.

“We need additional dollars or we will have to pare back. There is little money in the North End System… and certainly not this much,” said Jones.

“That wouldn’t be a good use of the North End funds anyway,” said Councilman Keopke.

 Oroville ORVs

Members of the North Central ATV Club approached the council with a presentation and a request that the city designate Oroville as an ATV friendly community.

“We are here to ask you to consider opening up the streets of Oroville for ATV and ORV use,” said Spencer King, president of the group.

King said the club partners with the DNR, US Forest Service and Okanogan County to establish travel routes.

“Our motto is leave no tracks,” he said.

King said their club promotes safe and responsible motorized recreation trhough education of other ORV (Off Road Vehicle) riders. They also police areas that are open to ORV Riding.

He cited several other towns in the county that have opened some of their streets to ORV use. These are Okanogan, including Hwy. 215 within the city limits; Tonasket, including portions of hwy. 97; Loomis, Riverside, Conconully and Mallot. In Tonasket the frontage road is open connecting Tonasket with areas like McLaughlin Canyon.

While state law does not require liability insurance for ORVs, the count does. ORV riders are also required to wear hemes, have lights and mirrors and to follow other state and county regulations. In the ORV areas, outside of the city limits, the state does not require a driver’s license, however, children must be accompanied by an adult.

“By opening up some of Oroville’s streets that will open up access to the Molson/Chesaw area. Cities with less than 3000 people can open up the part of the highway in town to ORV use,” said King.

“This will help us with destination loop routes and has the potential for economic gains for businesses,” said King.

Ed Surrette, who is also with the club, said that he goes to Idaho quite often and that there are many areas that allow ORVs on the street.

We go to Wallace, Idaho, and people probably spend $600 to $1000 a day per family,” Surrette said. “We use the roads to access other riding areas… most people don’t want to ride on the pavement.”

Councilman Tony Koepke said he had recently been to Chewela, Wash. where ORVs are allowed on some of the streets and said he enjoyed being able to ride his there.

“I’d like to be able to take off from here and ride to Conconully and spend the night and then take off and spend the night in Twisp,” said Koepke.

The club says that reports from Stevens County indicate that enforcement has become easier since the streets were opened up to ORVs. They also say that Sheriff Frank Rogers said that since Okanogan opened up its roads in 2009 there have been no tickets written and no reportable incidents involving ORVs. The county recently increased the speed limit on county highways were ORVs are allowed from 35 mph to the posted limit.

The council had questions about the noise from these vehicles.

“You’ll find the newer ATVs have stricter requirements than on a lot of modern vehicles… you’ll see they’re a lot quieter,” said King.

“Give us some time to do some research and we will get back to you with the council’s decision,” said Mayor Chuck Speith.