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Depoe Bay Update: Water tank, tsunami sirens, sewer overload, harbor dock fix


Depoe Bay
Courtesy photo

It appears that the long running, and potentially very expensive disagreement between Depoe Bay and the contractor who recently built the town’s new water tank, may be coming to an end with the announcement of a possible settlment among all parties to the dispute. The Depoe Bay City Council has signed the proposed settlement offer but other parties connected with the dispute have, as yet, not signed it.

The original complaint was filed some years back after the T-Bailey Construction Company of suburban Seattle billed Depoe Bay for removing 1,714 cubic yards of rock related to the construction of the town’s new water tank in 2006. The difference between what the city was willing to pay and what T-Bailey billed came in at $29,000. T-Bailey claimed they removed 1,714 cubic yards of material but the city maintains it agreed to pay for just 1,422 cubic yards which the city determined to be all that was needed to be removed. The city also claimed that the city’s contract engineer made it plain that their amount was clearly communicated to T-Bailey and so there was no justification to pay the $29,000 overage.

T-Bailey sued and won a jury award that not only ordered Depoe Bay to pay the extra $29,000 but a great deal more based on lost interest on the $29,000 on top of court and attorney costs which, at the time, had risen to well over a quarter million dollars. Depoe Bay told it’s Newport attorney firm to appeal the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

In the meantime, Depoe Bay fired it’s attorney firm after watching the total court award grow even higher which was already at a level very stressful for a small town the size of Depoe Bay.

But recently, a negotiated offer of settlement has been pursued and an announcement was made at last week’s Depoe Bay City Council meeting that Depoe Bay City Councilors, most who whom were not part of the original group that authorized the work, agreed to the settlement. Mayor Carol Connors told News Lincoln County that she and the council are not authorized to make any comment on the agreement or anything related to the case until the other parties sign on the dotted line as well, and then only according to any disclosure restrictions such a document may include. The amount of the settlement cost to the city would, however, be presumably public information. Mayor Connors would not offer an prediction as to when the other parties to the agreement might sign the document and finally put the matter to rest.

Depoe Bay’s quest for installing tsunami sirens that everybody in town can hear is inching toward a selection of the contractor who will provide and install them. Out of six or so “interested” companies, it’s come down to two, according to Mayor Connors. The two companies will make presentations to the Depoe Bay City Council in early March and then one of them will be chosen later in the month. Mayor Connors says money for the sirens will come out of the long accumulating hotel-motel room tax fund, but that they also hope that the Siletz Indians Charitable Fund will award the town a grant in the second quarter of 2012.

The recent group of winter storms terribly over-stressed Depoe Bay’s sewer pump system, especially at the lift-station on Vista. The pump was overcome with the volume of storm water that infiltrated the system and submerged the pump. The pump was ruined ($10,000) and diverted a part of the town’s sewer system to an outfall into Pirate’s Cove. City officials estimated it was 90% storm water, 10% sewage. Many communities up and down the Oregon Coast have routine problems with storm water getting into their sewer pipes and are working to ensure they are working as separate systems and are rebuilt where necessary. But progress is usually slow due to the enormous costs associated with such challenges.

Fixing Depoe Bay Dock One missed last season’s “repair window” due to the city’s grappling with designs and ascertaining the true cost of replacing the dock that was basically destroyed by the March 11th Japanese Tsunami. Typically, all “in water work” must be completed during the time that salmon are not spawning or growing juvenile fish, mainly November to the end of January. Mayor Connors says they now have a pretty good handle on the price tag to rebuild the dock and are relying on a FEMA grant and funds from the city’s insurance carrier. Mayor Connors said a temporary fix has served the town well but it cannot be relied on to become a defacto long term solution. She said she expects the replacement of Dock One to be completed during the November to January time frame later this year, at a final coast of several hundred thousand dollars.

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