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Silverton City Council – Community Center perplexity continues

By James Day

Figuring out what is next for the Silverton Community Center is turning into a confusing game of musical chairs.

The city holds the lease for the building, which is owned by the Oregon Military Department. That lease expires March 31, which means that tenants Jazzercise, Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA), WIC, the Silver Falls YMCA and the Elizabeth Hoke Trust all will be affected. While the city council holds its meetings at the center, it could easily find other quarters for meetings until the new Civic Center is finished.

SACA, along with the WIC program and the Hoke Trust, plan to move to space in the old Ratchet Brewery building on North First Street. But SACA won’t be ready to move until the summer, said Sarah DeSantis, who spoke to the Silverton City Council via Zoom at its Monday, Feb. 5 meeting.  

The YMCA, meanwhile, has pulled back from its earlier plans to take over the lease. YMCA officials said the big challenge was insuring the building because of its age, condition and the possible risk of repairs.

Kristi Horner, branch director of the Y, told Our Town “we are pursuing other short-term options as we look to find a more permanent solution.”

City Manager Cory Misley told the council that he will be in contact with the Oregon Military Department to see if a short term extension of the lease is possible:

In other council action:

• Councilors approved, as part of its consent agenda, spending an additional $56,659 on change orders for the new Civic Center. Construction of the 26,000-square foot, two-story building is 4.14% over its initial budget of $14.75 million and its original opening date of summer 2023 has been pushed to early April 2024. Because of project budget and completion date challenges the council and Misley agreed that an item on the progress of the project will be on each future council agenda until the building opens.

• Councilors approved another $99,816 in spending on the streets, sidewalks and other improvements in the Second Street corridor between Lincoln and Whittier. The new allocation was on top of $233,000 in additional funds that were approved at the Jan. 8 council session. The new funds were necessary because of a road base failure and some engineering cost estimate errors.

• Councilors met for nearly four hours on Feb. 6 at The Oregon Garden to discuss goals for the 2023-24 council cycle. Councilors also will discuss goals at a Feb. 26 work session and hope to finalize them March 4. The biggest ticket item is a new water treatment plant to replace a unit from the 1940s at the complex on East Main Street. The project has been in the planning stages for awhile, with the city earlier budgeting $9.5 million expected from a Business Oregon loan. But when bids for the project came in at $13 million the city put the project on hold while efforts were made to close the funding gap.

One intriguing draft goal includes turning the small piece of city property north of the new Civic Center into a “mobility hub.” Possible features might include electric vehicle charging stations, a transit stop and parking.  

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