THH

I want to share my strong support for the Manzanita Underhill Community Center project, and my gratitude for the immense amounts of work put in by people involved.

There are multiple layers of interactive costs and benefits involved which are often overlooked by individuals who have been complaining about tiny possible errors in the process.  For example:

1. Property Purchase – An “excessive” cost for the “City Hall”, right?  But it also can be a city park for that portion of the community, which has long been on the “Facility Needs” list.  Oh, and what about evacuation refuge space for 1500+ people for emergencies?  That land purchase can provide 30% matching funding for possible workforce housing onsite, which can also provide emergency shelter in emergencies.  And a real N-S thru street?  It’s truly a bargain, as well as the only viable option!

2. Alternative - Reuse of Existing School – As a coastal architect for 40 years, former Building Official of Cannon Beach, and user of event space in the building for more than 20 years, I concur TOTALLY with the decision NOT to attempt reuse.  Last time I was in the Men’s Room, I almost got devoured by carpenter ants.  I’ve had windows fall out in my hands.  I know where outside ground level is higher than inside floor level, meaning probable issues in the walls; segments of the building with complex different floor elevations meaning hard to adapt.  Improbability of upgrading to needed seismic standards or zero-energy use; or to reconfigure to these new city hall space needs.  

3. Construction costs, bond levies – There is no way to get precise cost estimates for construction two years in the future.  Current cost estimates have been reconfirmed from multiple sources as best-guesses for this point in the process.  The market may go up or down before actual construction.  The (up to) $6.5 million proposal for a bond issue includes a 20% contingency over the estimated $5.4 million cost, which may not be needed. 

Is this a huge amount for a small community?  To begin with, Manzanita’s tax rate is locked down by state regulations at 0.42 (42 cents per $1000 assessed value). In comparison, rates for other Tillamook County cities range up to 4.19!   They average 2.2, which is more than five times as much as Manzanita’s!)  That’s because Manzanita happened to have no infrastructure projects in process at the time the state locked down the rates!  So Manzanita has to go to bond measures for items which in other communities are just handled within their tax rate.  Even adding the Underhill project, Manzanita’s tax rate would be 0.92 . . . still less than that of any of the surrounding communities!

Secondly, how much of the needed bond issue (think $5.4 million rather than the $6.5 million “max”) will actually be paid by city residents?  Three quarters of Manzanita homes are vacation homes, which means that residents will have to pay only 25% of that cost.  And the valuation of vacation homes is considerably higher than that of resident homes, which means that actual resident costs would more likely be only about 20% of the cost.

4. Other benefits than “City Hall and Police Station”?  I feel that the current “conceptual plan” for the project can be significantly improved before going into construction, once the bond issue is approved.  For example, moving parking onto adjacent streets can release paving costs that can pave Classic Avenue to become Manzanita’s first-and-very-needed north-south arterial thru street, and release on-site land for park and evacuation use!  Making public restrooms visibly accessible, and visitor’s information nearby, can be a welcome greeting to visitors.  The meeting space can be better configured for a community meeting space and emergency use.  And there are several other funding elements that can potentially reduce costs even further.

Let’s go!  We need all of these elements now.

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