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San Juan County Council May 16 meeting summary: Plans to build county admin bldg,Wildfire Prevention Plan update, Argyle Lots lease,

LWVSJ Observer Corps*: summary of San Juan County Council May 16, 2023 meeting. 

The Council discussed key elements for the Argyle Lots lease negotiations with the Home Trust. They approved a five-year lease renewable for 94 years; a mix of 50% low income, 50% moderate income. They asked that 30% of units be 2-3 bedrooms to accommodate families; the County having right of refusal on some units for county staff; and that some units be ready by 2025.

The Council approved a limited Housing Fund round in 2023 for projects funded in 2022.

The Council approved sending a letter to Governor Inslee and federal officials commending the cooperation on the Aleutian Island response.

A citizen on Orcas asked for code enforcement of a business doing industrial operations in a residential area.

The Council approved three ordinances amending the 2023 budget.

Inspire Washington gave a presentation on supporting Science and Tech, Heritage, and Arts programs in communities by removing barriers to access for a broader range of citizens and noted the opportunity to pass a 1/10 of 1% sales tax to support such access. The Council expressed interest but noted that tax fatigue was a significant issue in the county.

Council approved a request from the County/Superior Court Clerk to remedy a serious staffing shortage in her office to maintain mandated staffing requirements for the courts by restoring 1.1 full-time equivalent staffing previously cut.

Paul Andersson of the SJI Conservation District addressed forest health. They need to update and implement the Wildfire Prevention Plan (WPP) and deal with excess biomass, possibly via a heat/power plant operated with OPALCO. He highlighted the value of the Conservation Corps and its work.

The Council approved moving forward with steps to update the WPP.

The Council approved moving forward with commissioning a scope of work on County building issues including possible new construction and remodels. 

PROJECT UNDERSTANDING detailed in letter from Miller Hull architectural firm 

San Juan County Civic Campus Schematic Design (30%) Scope of Work Verification

30% Schematic Design was completed for a new Administration building in September 2020. As the pandemic set in, the County decided to hold on plans for a new building and instead study the renovation and reuse of the courthouse building and additions, the Legislative building and the Annex building to accommodate the space needs determined in the 2018 master plan effort. This study determined that renovation of existing buildings was cost prohibitive and the project was again paused. Recent seismic and building conditions reports completed for the historic courthouse and its two building additions have identified significant deficiencies and recommended comprehensive seismic and envelope upgrades.

In response, the County has decided to study the removal of the non-historic courthouse wings and the replacement of the Court and Sheriff programs within a new County Administration Campus along with a seismic upgrade and renovation of the historic courthouse.

The design of the new Administration Building will build on work completed in previous phases while incorporating the Court and Sheriff programs into the new updated program. In addition, the scope willinclude the seismic upgrade, retrotift and remodel of the historic courthouse.

A full consultant team of architectural, landscape architectural, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology designers and a cost estimator will provide design guidance and value engineeringfor site design, building system selection, structural system selection, and architectural design.

The intent of this Schematic Design Phase is to develop 30% design in the form of plans, a cost estimate, and graphics to provide a refined understanding of costs, an updated checklist of permitting requirements, and to equip the County to showcase the project to secure funding.

At the end of the Schematic Design Phase, the design documents will include enough detail and development to continue on to the Design Development Phase at the County’s approval.  

The cost for the 30% Schematic Design is estimated to be $737,853 (NTE) 

Full document available on the county's website at https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/133024b6-de53-4194-994f-265275b26429  Click on related documents or download the agenda packet. 

They approved Health & Community Services to reinstate an Officer Manager position to cover the increased housing workload, paving the way forward on the affordable housing sales tax.

The Council approved the next steps in the Organics Waste Recycling Center Implementation Plan which include doing waste characterization for San Juan County and planning to acquire Enclosed in-vessel Systems for San Juan and Orcas Islands.

For the June 6 meeting, the Council scheduled a public hearing on a Rock Island communication easement for internet services on Lopez Island and to review allocation of unspent ARPA funds.

They appointed members of the Fair Board and took steps to improve audio-visual issues at Council meetings.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.


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