Potential City Hall site?

This site near the RV Park owned by the city is being eyed as a possible option for a new city hall.

The ongoing quest for a new city hall added a new potential site to the list.

The City Council wants to ask voters later this year to approve a bond that would pay for a new City Hall.

In January, city councilors heard members of the public advocate pro and con for two potential sites on Gower, a 5-acre buildable area on Spruce Street, and on the 55-acre South Wind site, an area of the city intended for future development outside of the tsunami inundation zone, a conversation continued Wednesday night at a council work session.

Added to the mix of land under review for the new city hall wasa 3.5-acre parcel north of the RV Park, part of 10 upland acres owned by the city.

Access to the property at 345 Elk Creek Road comes through Haskell Street, separating a neighborhood and RV sites, City Manager Bruce St. Denis said. The city could configure a design for a 1-acre, one-story City Hall and still leave space for neighboring RV sites.

The area is at an elevated of 45 feet, and is judged to be able to withstand an “extra-large-size tsunami.”

The site, once considered as a possible location of Cannon Beach Elementary School and other public facilities, received a site review in 1996. In the report, geotechnical engineers presented preliminary conclusions that “there are no known soil or geologic conditions on the site that preclude the developing the property as an elementary school.”

The engineer suggested that the school building would need to be supported on timber piles driven at least 40 to 50 feet into underlying clay soils. The exact type and depth of the foundations would need to be determined when the building location and floor elevation is selected.

Issues surrounding City Hall have been documented for more than a decade.

Renovation plans to fix problems with air ventilation and structural defects have been drawn up, but shelved due to high costs and lack of feasibility.

In December, a Portland-based architecture firm, evaluated the benefits and downsides of each location.

Options ranged from Gower Street sites estimated at $14.5 million and $16 million, and options at the South Wind site, at a projected cost of more than $27 million.

The Gower Street options include both one-story and two-story designs, but is predicted to be able to withstand only a “medium” scenario tsunami.

High costs associated with construction and purchasing rights of way at South Wind drive a cost almost double alternatives, although infrastructure upgrades at the site for a City Hall at South Wind could be the catalyst for other development, including a new school.

The Spruce Street site, located near the public works building and the cell tower, would necessitate tree removal and a change of use for a trail reserve. This could lead to “blowback” from the public, Mayor Sam Steidel said.

“I remember when we created that reserve, there was a lot of concern about how committed the city would stay in keeping that,” Steidel said.

The RV site is the latest site to enter the discussion. But council members recalled a 1990s study by the Seaside School District that determined that the site, then under consideration for relocation of Cannon Beach Elementary School, failed to meet geotechnical standards for a new building.

“It makes sense to look at the RV Park area,” councilor Mike Benefield said. “It’s a worthwhile exercise.”

“My take it would be to take it as far as we can without spending any money,” Steidel said.

A meeting with Escape Lodging, managers of the RV Park for the city, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6.


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