Sidewalk pavers racing against winter weather

OROVILLE – The Oroville Pedestrian Project was supposed to be completed this summer, but it looks like time may be running out this year as winter weather fast approaches.

“They poured the wall last Friday, which was one of the big issues and they are tentatively scheduled to pour all the curbs for the north end by this upcoming Friday,” Rod Noel, Superintendent of Public Works, told the Oroville City Council at their Tuesday, Nov. 3 meeting.

“They hope to get the curb done so we can get the patching done,” said Noel, referring to patching the pavement where it meets up with the curb.

When completed, the sidewalk will follow the east side of Main St./Hwy. 97 from the north end to the south end of the city’s boundaries. It will join up the two ends of town with sidewalks that already exist in the downtown area.

In addition to the sidewalk and curbs, there was also a retaining wall that was constructed just south of the entrance to the state park. As of Monday this week, a large section of the curb on the north end had completed and compaction of the soil where the new sidewalk will go on the south end had begun in earnest.

The sidewalk is being funded mostly through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant of $1.5 million from the federal stimulus bill. The contract to do the sidewalk was awarded by the city to Cates and Erb Inc. of Omak.

“Hopefully they’ll get this mess cleaned up before Mother Nature decides it’s winter,” said Noel. “They (the pavers) are responsible for maintaining the project through the winter.”

The council also heard correspondence from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

“Basically it states that they erred in regards to some facts under the Urban Growth Area thinking that the county was under the state’s Growth Management Act… therefore the transfer of the state park to Oroville is rescinded,” said Kathy Jones, Oroville’s Clerk/Treasurer.

Counties with populations of more than 50,000 are required to participate in the state’s Growth Management Act, or GMA. The GMA requires cities to map out what they consider their Urban Growth Area to be. This is where the city will most likely grow in the future. Although Okanogan County’s population allows it to opt out of GMA, Oroville has mapped out where its Urban Growth Area is and the state park is part of it. However, after the city was awarded the transfer of the park at a meeting last month, the Colville Confederated Tribes, which also asked to be considered as a recipient of the transfer, said they would file legal action against the state Parks and Rec. Commission stating the commission did not properly follow their own criteria.

Since the transfer was taken back, the commission is asking the city, as well as the Tribes, to resubmit their request to have the park transferred to them based under the same four criteria. The fact that the park is in Oroville’s Urban Growth Area will not automatically qualify the city for the transfer.

Oroville Police Chief Clay Warnstaff reported that Officer Chris Patterson, who was severely injured this summer when his car collided with a cow on US97, had undergone surgery on Oct. 30.

“He called me the next day saying he was feeling good. He’s discontinued his speech therapy and has been discharged from the hospital,” Chief Warnstaff said.

“That’s awesome, Chris’ recovery has been terrific,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

The mayor asked for a 20-minute closed-door executive session to discuss property negotiations, which is one of the few exemptions to the state’s Open Public Meetings act.