Steady-as-she-goes for the Toledo Pool, repaving Business 20 above JC Thriftway, thinking storm drains, struggling to fill city committee positions and Lee Ritzman is back in “the bizz” in Toledo!
Filling some vacancies with people who enjoy improving Toledo
Meeting in a more laid-back conversational “work session” Tuesday evening, the Toledo City Council took some long hard looks at several festering issues facing the town.
Right off the top, councilors pledged they’d “get out there” and really beat the bushes to find citizens willing to roll up their sleeves and get serious about helping to run city government in the most efficient and effective way possible And that means serving on a number of notable city committees.
The top two at the moment are the city Budget Committee and the city Planning Commission. There are vacancies on both.
The City Budget Committee meets mostly in the first two to three months of the year. With staff support it goes over what the city needs to accomplish in the next fiscal year to improve the town as well as prioritize city funds to accomplish what can realistically be tackled in the year ahead.
The Toledo Planning Commission has openings for those who might want to have a say and contribute a piece of their own vision as to how the town will look over the next ten to twenty years. The commission advises the city council on building projects – some proposed from the private sector, others planned by public entities. The Planning commission generally meets once a month and those who serve on it get the real scoop about what’s happening around Toledo.
Anyone interested in serving on either of these committees, or would like some information on vacancies on other important and influential committees should call city hall and ask to talk with Clerk Recorder Nancy Bryant at 336-2247. ext 2110. Or you can contact any of the town’s six city councilors or Mayor Ralph Grutzmacher.
After what has seemed like years of talking and thinking about the future of the Toledo Pool, the city council this week actually got some hard facts on what needs to be spent to keep the 50 year old pool simply status quo ($200,000), commit more than three times as much ($750,000) renovating and strengthening it, to an even higher stack of money ($2,000,000) to make it withstand strong earthquakes and other natural disasters. There is also the option of building a completely new “swim center” ($4,000,000++).
Since Toledo is a pretty small town, just under 3,300 souls, those big numbers aren’t likely in the cards for the city anytime soon, since it has a number of other major issues it must concentrate on – namely water and sewer utilities.
So the council stepped back and punted. They said that the pool still works fine and should continue to work fine for the short haul as long as the city does a few upgrades and performs additional maintenance on it. A $50,000 boiler replacement might be on the menu sooner than anyone wants, but that’s the way it is according to City Recreation and Pool Manager Joe Andrews. Andrews says the boiler works now, but it’s getting quite old and some day it’s going to wind up in that great boiler boneyard in the sky.
City Councilor Jill Lyon suggested that Toledo might approach Newport to explore whether Toledo residents, who don’t mind driving the 6 miles to Newport, might get some kind of favorable non-resident rate when Newport’s big new swim center opens in a year or so. Such an arrangement might lengthen the life of the Toledo pool while upgrading Toledo residents’ enjoyment of a neighboring indoor aquatic center.
Andrews said he and City Manager Jay Baughman will report back to the council on a list of options for the council to peruse as they chart a way forward for the Toledo Pool.
The City Council, after much angst and rumination decided to proceed with the grinding up and repaving of a short stretch of Business Highway 20 between JC Thriftway and the Port of Toledo/Fishpeople building. The road began slumping a bit to the east and downhill many months ago. Then it stopped. Which put a number of city councilors in a quandary about what to do next.
They dumped some money into a study to determine how much the road was moving and how fast. Last winter the verdict came it that the movement had apparently stopped. But consultants examining the hill and the road as a whole predicted it’s likely to resume slumping during exceptionately wet winters. And with a house right at the bottom of the hill, that itself will eventually make the situation more challenging.
Although Mayor Grutzmacher and City Councilor Jill Lyon felt that ODOT and the consultants didn’t keep the city as well informed as they should have, the two went along with the rest of the council in chipping in another 15 thousand dollars to have the weakened section of pavement reground and re-smoothed. They reasoned that the city’s total investment of $25,000 or so is a bargain when ODOT and the federal government will be throwing in well over $200,000 more to pay the rest of the project cost.
An ODOT engineer told the council last week that this stretch of Business 20 will likely be a chronic pain in the city’s posterior for years because tearing out and rebuilding the entire hill would be astronomically expensive, he said. Councilor Jack Dunaway called it Toledo’s “Moolack Beach Highway.”
Getting a grip on the handles, the flushers and the street drains
And finally, the city council began to get their collective hands around a long running problem – storm water infiltration into the town’s sewer collection system. For quite a while there has been a debate over whether Toledo should add capacity to its sewer treatment plant or just fix the holes that allow storm water to enter the system and overwhelm the sewer plant. Some say it’s easier to expand the plant to handle the extra volume.
But others contend that expanding the sewer plant would be very expensive – not only in building the “add on” but also the chemicals and additional labor over the years that goes with it.
Former Public Works Supervisor David Inman, who now works for the Toledo Fire Department, recommended that the city continue to run video cameras through the sewer lines and patch leaks as they find them. He said it makes more sense to fix the pipes than process water that has no business getting into the sewer plant. He told the council it’s a problem the whole country is facing since most sewer and water systems were installed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. And they’re getting quite old and leaky. Councilor Jill Lyon suggested the new council bring up the issue when they begin to list future goals for the town early next year.
By the way, Newport’s former Public Works Director Lee Ritzman is apparently coming out of retirement to help Toledo out of a bind caused by its public works director being lured away to a higher paying job. Toledo is in the middle of some very expensive public works projects including a new water intake facility on the Siletz River, the transport of that water through pipes to Toledo and now the issue of storm water infiltration. City Manager Jay Baughman said Ritzman will be an interim Public Works Director until the town can find a permanent replacement.