The Longview City Council on Thursday approved issuing a bond for no more than $2.7 million to finance street repairs on Nichols Boulevard and Oregon Way.
City Manager Kurt Sacha said the city will have a 2.57% interest rate on its 20-year bond from Kitsap Bank of Port Orchard, Wash.
“That’s unheard of,” Sacha said, regarding the interest rate. “We are at truly historic lows when it comes to bonding our street projects.”
The bond will be paid off with revenue from the transportation benefit district’s $20 car tab fees.
An initiative on the November ballot for voter approval would eliminate a number of tax measures, including the transportation benefit district. (The Daily News next week will run a longer story on this initiative and its local impact.)
Sacha said he plans to close the bond deal on Oct. 24, which means it would be in place before the November election. Even if the initiative passes, the city would still have an obligation to pay off existing bonds. Therefore, the initiative would not impact the street projects paid with this bond.
When asked after the meeting if the city was trying to fit this bond in before the election, Sacha said “absolutely not.” The city has been planning on these projects since 2017 when it first started collecting car tab fees, he said.
With low interest rates and rising construction costs, it makes the most sense to do the projects now, instead of waiting, Mayor Don Jensen said.
“It’s like buying a car, but a lot more expensive,” Jensen said.
The Nichols Boulevard Project will include paving, signal installation and accessibility upgrades from Louisiana Boulevard to 26th Avenue. It is projected to cost $1.6 million and be completed by December.
The Oregon Way project will include paving, signal and accessibility upgrades from Tennant Way to Baltimore Street. It is estimated to cost about $1 million and be completed next year.
Also during the meeting, Longview residents once again spoke about a proposed severe weather shelter at First Christian Church on Kessler Boulevard.
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However, multiple residents said they were optimistic about finding a compromise following the City Council’s community forum at the Lion’s Shelter at Lake Sacajawea earlier in the evening. About 100 people attended, Jensen estimated.
At first, everyone was at each other’s throats, he said after the meeting. But by the end, it was “Kumbaya” and people seemed to be getting along, he said. Multiple homeless people were there and spoke to the crowd.
“It got a little loud at some points, but we got it straightened out,” Jensen said. “We might have had a major breakthrough.”
The proposed shelter has caused significant debate ever since the Kelso-Longview Ministerial Association first floated the idea two weeks ago. Longview residents have since spoken passionately on both sides of the debate at recent City Council meetings and about 200 people attended a community forum on Monday night.
The Ministerial Association has asked Love Overwhelming to manage its shelter, if it gets the necessary permits. But Community House on Broadway recently announced that it would also be willing to manage a shelter, if a new location was found.
During the meeting Thursday night, Love Overwhelming board member Shawn Nyman thanked the council for holding the community meeting at the lake, saying it is a good start.
“What has happened is it’s been so divisive, and (with) social media, people feel like they have to pick a side: the LO camp or the Community House camp. Why do we have to choose? Let’s just stop that,” she said. “For tonight, you can be in the LO camp and the Community House camp at the same time. It is possible. It’s possible for us to have two warming shelters. … Let’s just sit down and problem solve. Whatever we can do together. Let’s just stop the divisiveness.”
Multiple others spoke, mostly in support of finding a solution for a temporary shelter during weather emergencies.
Afterwards, Jensen said he had been “excited” to see both homeless people and neighbors seem to find commonality during the meeting at the Lion’s Shelter.
In other business, the council:
- Adopted the 2019 update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
- Heard a presentation on the five loaned sculptures installed downtown last month.
- Approved an ordinance restricting the parking of commercial vehicles on certain city streets.