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Sinkhole design team wins approval

The sinkhole repair design will cost around $80,000, and construction is scheduled to begin in April, according to an update given by Public Works Director Maher Abed to the Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday.

Abed requested approval to sign a contract with WestSound Engineering to design the reconstruction of the pipe that caved in during the Dec. 3 rain storms.

The pipe was a converted open-air drainage system that was covered and poorly maintained, leading to a 50-foot sinkhole adjacent to the parking lot of the Hi-Joy Bowl.

The council approved Maher’s request, but specified the need to keep the design costs under $80,000.

Abed also explained that the city will be compensated for 87.5 percent of the cost by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), leaving about $10,000 of the cost going to Port Orchard.

The city would have to pay the total amount up front, then bill FEMA for its portion.

The council was concerned about paying out the $80,000 before billing FEMA, and asked if WestSound could wait for its payment.

“I think you’ll find they will say ‘We’re contracting through the city not FEMA,’” City Attorney Greg Jacoby said.

Abed hoped the $10,000 would eventually come out of revenue from the Stormwater Management funds, but the council balked at this, because the program is not yet implemented.

Council members also expressed frustration over the 50-foot hole marring the city’s surface until the spring.

“We’re going to get right on it as soon as we get a competitive bid,” Abed said.

Councilman John Clauson replied, “The sooner, the better.”

In other council business:

• The city council will hold a retreat at the home of Councilman Fred Olin today.

Kitsap Street resident Geri Harmon bemoaned the location of the meeting, saying that City Hall is where public meetings should be held.

“In my opinion we need to get more people involved in local government, and by having your meetings in a variety of places makes it more difficult,” she said to council Tuesday. “We spent a lot of money to pay for this building and it was built for city government.”

• Council approved an ordinance allowing Mayor Lary Coppola to sign a professional services agreement with Grant-Solutions, a grant writing company.

The company could draft grants to acquire money for city-based projects. The decision came after a presentation from Kathleen Byrnes-Barrantes, a representative for Grant-Solutions, at the council’s last retreat.

“It’s too long in coming,” Councilman Fred Olin said.

• Councilman Fred Chang and City Clerk Michelle Merlino confirmed details over a green initiative from the city which reduces the number of photocopies made and reduces paper use.

Agendas are now sent primarily through e-mail and posted on the website. Chang was unable to view the agenda easily on his computer, and worried that residents would not have access to agendas.

Merlino assured Chang that hard copies are available to the public on request, and that city staff provides several copies for the public at meetings.

• City staff is expanding a little bit with the approval of a part-time associate planner to work with City Development Director James Weaver.

City Clerk Michelle Merlino requested the council extend the position of administrative secretary, held by Nicole Stephens, to full time, which would make her eligible for medical benefits.

The council approved both requests.

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