LINCOLN CITY — The Lincoln City City Council declared an emergency during its meeting Monday evening in order to address an issue with the sewer line serving the Wecoma pump station without the need for a competitive bidding process.

According to Interim Public Works Director Stephanie Reid, the line to the station has been springing leaks for the last few years, but the last two months, leaks have become far more frequent, with city staff responding to five separate incidents during that time.

Reid added that after staff inspection, it was found the pipes were corroded, and 1,400 feet of pipe from Northwest 21st Street to Northwest 25th Street requires immediate replacement.

“The whole bottom is corroded, and this puts us at risk of sewer spillage reaching the surface, and it is contaminating the soil,” Reid said. “The guys have had to come out too frequently to not declare an emergency. We can’t wait another year to design this and everything. Fortunately, we have a contractor who can work now to order a pipe and has already put together a plan with us.”

K&E Excavating submitted a bid for $585,000, which was not budgeted for due to the suddenness of the emergency. To free up those funds, the Public Works Department will need to postpone its Third Street pump upgrade and transfer $200,000 from its Nelscott force main project, which may end up receiving more money from grants. The Wecoma line project will also require another $185,000 from the city’s contingency fund.

“One problem we have is that often we only notice these leaks when they make it to the surface,” Reid said. “Either our crews are responding or we need to hire a contractor. The last repair we had, six guys from our crew were spending hours Saturday morning to fix it.

“Really, we should have replaced all our force mains when we replaced our pump stations.” Reid continued. “These are ductile iron that aren’t protected from the elements, and honestly they’re probably all bad. But we’re going to start with these we know are bad for sure.”

Councilor Riley Hoagland was critical of the process, asking why the Public Works Department resorted to asking the council to grant an emergency if they knew the leaks were becoming more common. He also asked who would have been responsible for choosing this specific contractor and how long the regular process would take in comparison.

“I’m not against spending the money, but I’m concerned it could easily look like nepotism, and we don’t want that,” Hoagland said.

Reid said they consulted K&E on the leaks, who then offered to do the project. She added that skipping the competitive bidding process and directly awarding the project could speed up the process by up to nine months.

City Attorney Richard Appicello said, that while the city could conduct the full process, he didn’t think it would be worth it given the urgency of the situation.

The council ultimately voted unanimously to approve the emergency declaration and award the bid.

Other notable items from the meeting:

• The council voted to name the public plaza at Northwest 18th and Highway 101 after Ed Johann, a veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor.

• Paul Schuytema, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County, gave a presentation on Oregon’s Rural Opportunity Initiative program, which is a program by Business Oregon intended to help develop rural businesses over the next six years.

• Parks and Recreation Director Jeanne Sprague gave an update on her department’s efforts to create a dog park in the city, noting that by working with other departments, the Lincoln City Community Center was identified as a good location for the project. Sprague said the department still needs to determine whether the dog park could be publicly funded or if it will require a budget request from the city.

• The council approved the purchase and installation of 450 feet of “mobi-mat” material to expand accessibility for the beach accesses at D River, Taft and Nelscott. The purchase is expected to cost roughly $18,000.

• The council spent time discussing the process of appointing members to the city’s different volunteer committees. Mayor Susan Wahlke expressed her desire to interview multiple applicants for the position at the same time, while the rest of the council questioned whether it would be fair to put off interviewing people who applied sooner to wait for those who applied later. Councilor Judy Casper noted there was no cutoff dates on the application, and the council could consider adding one.

• The council interviewed applicants for the planning commission and budget committee. Robert Iadevaia Vincent and Mellissa Sumner were appointed to the planning commission, while Diana Bates was appointed to the budget committee. 

• Western States Electrical Construction Inc. was awarded a $173,335 contract to replace a sewer pump on Third Street, which was not the same project postponed earlier in the meeting.

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