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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Medford City Council Study Session
March 13, 2014
Those present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Dick Gordon, Tim Jackle, Eli Matthews, John Michaels, Bob Strosser
City Manager Eric Swanson; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke; City Attorney John Huttl; Deputy City Recorder Karen Spoonts; Finance Director Alison Chan; Public Works Director Cory Crebbin; Public Works Transportation Manager Alex Georgevitch
ODOT Southwest Manager Mike Baker, ODOT Rogue Valley Area Manager Art Anderson; Travel Medford Senior Vice President Anne Jenkins; CSA Planning President Craig Stone, Mike Montero & Associates President Mike Montero
Councilmember Karen Blair was absent.
Councilmember Bunn stated that during the Council Officers meeting they discussed MaryJane’s Attic; the Police Department had given MaryJane’s Attic three citations although the city plans on pulling them but will wait until the council meeting to proceed.
City Manager Swanson recognized the visitors in attendance and thanked them for coming.
ODOT Funding Exchange – Welcome Center Project
Councilmember Bunn stated that the City was contacted by ODOT to consider a fund exchange to facilitate construction of the Welcome Center which would be located south of Ashland. This will be an opportunity to support the region as tourism has a huge impact not only on the Rogue Valley but the entire state.
Attorney Huttl provided a brief explanation of the fund exchange. The City would use the street utility fund to accomplish this and explained the purpose of this fund. ODOT would be replenishing dollar for dollar for the use of our funds. Finance Director Chan noted that ODOT is building the Welcome Center but are restricted in the use of the state gas tax. The amount would be 1.5 million. Councilmember Corcoran questioned if this would be in the same budget cycle, Ms. Chan noted that we would do it in phases of $500,000 per year.
Councilmember Michaels questioned if other municipalities are participating in this; staff noted that there is no other entity involved.
Councilmember Jackle questioned if we could make a minor amendment to our code; Mr. Huttl thought that it would be easier to just have an agreement vs. an agreement and changing the code.
Mayor Wheeler questioned if we had done something similar to this before; Public Works Director Crebbin noted that we did pertaining to Garfield.
ODOT Southwest Manager Mike Baker provided the history of the old welcome center. ODOT has been working on the new site for about seven years due to delays such as appeals on the property. The appeal was overturned when it was decided that the City of Ashland would provide water, although with new councilmembers that has changed. ODOT acquired a water right though Talent Irrigation District (TID) although they are still trying to get all conditions met. ODOT thinks they will be ready to pull permits this summer and start construction next year. Funding would be in place through the proposal with Medford.
Mr. Swanson noted that the programming piece would have to come later and stated that the City had a meeting with a Travel Oregon representative on this topic. He further commented that the college has a program pertaining to hospitality management.
Councilmember Gordon questioned the upkeep of this project; Mr. Anderson noted that it would come from the budget of maintenance. Oregon Travel Experience, a state agency, would eventually be in charge of representing and maintaining these. Travel Medford Senior Vice President Anne Jenkins believed that Travel Oregon will be operating it. Mr. Anderson provided clarification on the two entities that would manage it.
Medford Viaduct Interstate 5
Mr. Baker provided the history of the viaduct and what ODOT hopes to accomplish there. The ODOT funding process occurred last year which identified key highway projects and this was on the list. ODOT talked earlier this week about moving this forward. There will be a planning phase and discussion about the impacts that this will have to the area, such as housing, Hawthorne Park, etc. There might be other areas where it would improve traffic flow as well. They hope to go out for a proposal sometime this fall but will take a few years to complete that step. Mr. Baker noted that ODOT does not have any money to build this.
Mr. Swanson noted that he has followed the Columbia crossing issue and there seems to be some money that would go towards that project. Mr. Baker thought that the viaduct could cost 150-200 million dollars. He further explained the revenue and bond payments but there is a possibility of future funding.
Mr. Corcoran questioned if there was an emergency would Hwy 97 be used as an interstate and questioned the funding to rebuild the viaduct. Mr. Anderson noted that the viaduct would survive depending on the type of earthquake and stated the reason why they did not update the viaduct to withstand earthquakes was because it would have cost as much to make a new highway.
Mr. Gordon questioned the condition of the Klamath River bridge; Mr .Corcoran thought that they just redid that.
Back to the Welcome Center Project, Mr. Corcoran questioned the added expense building as LEED certified; Mr. Anderson noted that we are trying to set the image of the entry to Oregon and it will help with maintenance and energy costs. There will be solar panels, although it will not be off the grid.
Hwy 62 Project
Mr. Anderson provided information on the new plans for the new highway. He explained the process ODOT went through to not allow any land locks. In August of 2012 ODOT reviewed this project again and noted that extending Commerce Drive cut about four million dollars from the project. Representative Sal Esquivel questioned why they could not use Coker Butte Road; Mr. Anderson noted that the cost to purchase land was an issue although there is now interest in providing land for this. He noted that Councilmember Bunn was very helpful on this. At this time it is about $800,000 difference if Coker Butte was continued. Mr. Bunn noted that the City does not have any money to contribute or the County.
Mr. Swanson thanked ODOT for their working relationship on these projects; Mr. Anderson thanked Councilmember Bunn and City staff stating that they have represented the City well.
Transportation System Plan/Level of Service (LOS)
Staff questioned if there was time for council to hear this. Mr. Bunn suggested that it be heard at the April 24 joint meeting with the Planning Commission; all agreed.
Meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC
Deputy City Recorder

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