Oregon Council, by a vote of 6-1, approved a contract last Monday with the Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., for the design of a new concession stand and restroom facility to serve the recreation department’s new South Recreation Complex.
Councilman Sandy Bihn was opposed.
Last month, council was considering an $11,280 contract with Buehrer for the three-phased project.
Mike Seferian, who was mayor-elect at the time, was opposed, saying the city would be wasting money on a project that may not occur since there are no sanitary sewers at the site, just off Starr Extension. The matter was referred to a Dec. 7 recreation committee meeting for further discussion.
“Council wanted to get some direction with this proposal,” said Seferian, who has since been sworn in as mayor.
“There’s some discrepancy of where this possibly would go,” he added, due to the lack of sewers.
Seferian agreed to a compromise: Go forward with the first phase of the project at a cost of $2,660, then pay the balance of the $11,280 if the administration decides to move ahead with the project.
“I agreed that it might be the right thing to do to get the initial concept of where this building would lie, and what it would cost,” he said. “It really gives us the latitude to only spend $2,600 and get some benefit without spending the whole $11,000 for something we may not proceed to use.”
Christine Basden, of Corduroy Road, told council she was concerned that the project would delay the construction of a new senior center, which city officials have been committed to for the last several years.
“The seniors have been promised a senior center, which I have heard nothing on,” said Basden. “Yet I see you guys want to put in bathrooms and concession stands over at the complex when there’s no sewers going out to Starr. I’m suggesting you put in Port-a-Potties and go on with the senior center. Our kids have enough to do in this city. They have a lot of sports going on and a lot to keep them occupied. Our seniors have nothing. They need something to keep them going. We’re going to lose people. We might be gaining the younger crowd, but we’re going to end up losing a lot of older people. I’m getting old myself. I might want to use a nice senior center some day. It’d be nice to go in there, and maybe have a sitting room with a television. Give these seniors something that will keep them going. That’s what we need to have done now.”
Seferian said the concession stand and restrooms could conceivably be built within a new senior center.
Councilman Sandy Bihn was opposed to the contract, saying the site was supposed to be used for the new senior center when the city purchased the property a few years ago.
“At that time, there were many statements made by many of the people here – and some not here – that we would use the purchase of that land for matching funds for getting the senior center built out here. Since then, we put in roads, soccer fields, done lots of bridges and bikeways back here, but the senior center hasn’t happened. Forty percent of our population is over 50 in this community. We have a higher senior population than other surrounding suburban communities,” she said.
The city’s current senior center is in a former utility building on Bay Shore Road with just one room.
“If you go to senior centers in the region, you’ll see they have many rooms. We have a one room school house in this community – that’s what we’re giving to our seniors. We’re not serving through our recreation program a huge block of people in this community. If this was for the senior center when it was proposed, I remember what was said, which was `We don’t have sewer lines back there. We have to put in sewer lines first.’ Now, we’re talking about putting in restrooms. We don’t have sewer lines. But we can talk about designing restrooms without having the line back there. I think there needs to be a master plan for this complex. I think these pieces need to fit together, not independently. Until that’s done, I don’t think this is appropriate to proceed at this point with just restrooms without knowing if we’re going to do the senior center. I feel very strongly that this community’s senior population deserves a center, and it should be part of a plan.”
Seferian said he agreed with Bihn on some points.
“But when I compromised with council to proceed with the $2,600 portion of this, there was the chance a senior center either wouldn’t get built within the next couple years, or a decision could be made to improve the senior center on Bay Shore Road. It wasn’t a solid decision that it would be built out here yet. Although I did contend that if a new senior center was going to be built, it would be on this property,” said Seferian.
Public Service Director Paul Roman, who is currently the city’s interim administrator, said the senior center has gone through a preliminary design.
“There was a series of three public meetings very well attended by many seniors giving input towards that,” said Roman. The phase 1 was a preliminary design. Everyone wants to mention a master plan. I don’t see how you can go too much further than what we planned out already. Phase 1 for a concession stand is very similar to what was done for the senior center, to give a ball park price. Now that we have a ball park price for a senior center, I think we all had sticker shock. And there was a question to what degree and detail and features do you want that senior center to have?”
The costs to operate a new senior center, and to install new sewers, are also part of the discussion, said Roman.
It could cost $30,000 to install new sewers to the site, he added.
“Quite frankly, if you have to put in the sewers, and we’re not doing the senior center, is it worth it to proceed with restrooms back there just for the restrooms without the senior center. So I see them as together, as interdependent for the cost of the sewers. Therefore, I won’t be supporting this,” said Bihn.
Seferian said he estimated that the project to build the new concession stand and restroom facility, including the sanitary sewers, would cost between $200,000 to $220,000.
Bihn said she thought the cost to build the restrooms and concession stand “in this day and age for soccer fields is too much.”
The recreation department has existing separate concession stand and restroom facilities that serve the baseball complex north of Wolf Creek.
Joe Wasserman, who heads the recreation department, said last month that about 1,000 people attend soccer and flag football at the complex on the weekends.