Council approves building purchase for new City Hall

Sean C. Morgan

Pending good results on a rot and pest inspection, the City Council approved the purchase of the former Sweet Home Ranger District building to serve as a new City Hall.

The council voted 5-0, with newly appointed Councilor Diane Gerson abstaining, during its regular meeting on July 12. Voting to buy the building were councilors James Goble, Ryan Underwood, Greg Mahler, Mayor Jim Gourley and Dave Trask. Jeff Goodwin was absent.

A rot and pest inspection was planned for last week. As long as the report shows no issues, the city will move forward with the purchase of the property at 3225 Main St. for $750,000 by Friday. The city has already paid $25,000 of that total in earnest money.

An appraiser determined the building is worth $780,000. With anticipated improvements, according to the report, the property could be worth as much as $1.34 million.

Two weeks earlier, the council sought estimates for construction to get the building ready to serve as a City Hall.

“The community wanted to know what this was going to cost before we voted for it,” Gourley said.

Trask contacted four contractors, he said. One declined, and the second did not have enough time to do an estimate. Two provided estimates, one from Savage and Smothers Construction, Inc., for $240,000 and one from Keith Wooley General Contractor for $324,000.

To the best of their ability, two contractors estimated a ballpark cost, Trask said.

The estimates are not binding and do not serve as bids. When ready, the council will follow a formal bidding process for remodeling the building.

“I was pretty pleased with the estimates we got, to a degree,” Trask said, adding that they are within the range he expected them to be.

The estimates are for the replacement of missing drywall, carpet and ducting while using the existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, just to get the building usable again.

Prevailing wage requirements were considered in the Wolley estimate, a total of nearly $65,000.

In other business, the council:

n Chose to engage the services of the Cascades West Council of Governments or the Local Government Personnel Institute as needed to assist interim city manager Christy Wurster in recruiting a new city manager.

The COG or LGPI will handle sending out recruitment packets and advertising. COG will charge $100 per hour, while LGPI offered to work for $110 per hour.

The council also approved its recruitment packet, which includes information about the City of Sweet Home government and facilities, the Sweet Home community and the city manager position.

As of Monday, the position had been posted with LGPI, League of Oregon Cities and on the city’s website.

The job opening closes on Aug. 12.

n Approved the hiring of a new half-time librarian in a 5-1 vote. Councilor Trask voted no. The position was approved as part of the 2016-17 budget and is being used to expand library hours.

n Approved the hiring of a part-time and a full-time dispatcher at Sweet Home Police Department. The two positions were vacant and are part of the 2016-17 budget.

While the city lacks a permanent city manager, the council is approving the hiring of new personnel.

n Approved a package of details and waivers to allow the Oregon Jamboree to operate.

As part of the package, the council is suspending the law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in public places. .

Sankey Park and Weddle Bridge will be complete closed from 6 a.m. on July 25 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 1.

The package includes closures of 14th Avenue from Kalmia to Grape, and 18th Avenue from Long to Mountain View. Eighteenth Avenue closes at 11 a.m. on July 28, where the annual kickoff party will be held.

It includes expanded hours for a public address permit for Saturday and Sunday of the event, which is scheduled for July 29-31. The public address permit is through midnight on July 29-30 and 11:30 p.m. on July 31.

n Held a public hearing on an appeal by Manuel Victor to partition a property into two parcels located at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Willow Street. The partition would have created two 4,000-square-foot lots, where he planned to set a pair of singlewide manufactured homes.

Victor’s attorney, Frank Walker, told the council that Victor was dropping the appeal, based on Walker’s advice. The partition would have required several variances.