September 1, 2014
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Cover Story: 10 TO DO
3/27/2013 2:17:11 PM

By Josh Johnson
Splash Staff Writer

It's spring. The sun is shining a little longer each day, the dirt is getting easier to move and the staff at Liberty Lake City Hall are turning their attention to the annual checklist of capital projects.

If in 2013, that list appears more crowded than in recent memory, it's because it is. 

"I think there's been maybe over the past two years a growing need - "backlog" generally has a negative connotation to it - but there's been some deferred activities," City Administrator Katy Allen said. "Now we don't want to defer them any longer. We really want to put a plan together to move things forward."

While the specific details of many of these projects will be revisited as they further crystallize throughout the year, Allen sat down with The Splash in late March to help take a 30,000-foot overview of 10 major projects the city will be tackling this year. 

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Some will change depending upon grants or funding, some will adapt as more details come in - and a couple are already all-but-completed. Following is a capsulized look at 10 items on the 2013 municipal to-do list.

Task 1: The Harvard Road Roundabout
What will be accomplished by this project?
In partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation, one of Liberty Lake's most dangerous intersections is getting a complete makeover. The intersection of Harvard Road, Mission Avenue and the westbound Interstate 90 off-ramp is a traffic bottleneck that many locals avoid during the busiest times of the day. The present configuration of stop signs for east-west traffic only will be replaced by a roundabout. Included in the roundabout design is low-rising and-low maintenance vegetation, a greener perimeter and a brick monument sign that welcomes the off-ramp traffic into Liberty Lake.

"It's very much consistent with the other brick monument signs that we have," Allen said.

What is the timeline for completion?
City and DOT officials met with citizens and local businesses again March 21 to prepare for the traffic impacts of this construction and mitigate the impact on businesses. For this reason, construction is scheduled to begin July 8 - immediately after the Ironman/Hoopfest/Fourth of July gauntlet that is busy for the restaurants and hotel near that intersection. Allen said the entire project is expected to last 60 days.
 

Submitted rendering
Work on the Harvard Road roundabout is scheduled to begin July 8.
Click on the image to see a larger view.

LEGEND:
1. City Entry Sign
2. Signature Art Piece
3. Apron With Accent Paving
4. Pedestrian Crossing With Accent Paving
5. Perennials and Ornamental Grasses
6. Flowering Trees (Typical)
7. Evergreen Trees (Typical)
8. Deciduous Street Trees (Typical)

Submitted rendering
This monument sign would be placed on the east side of the roundabout, greeting Interstate 90 off-ramp traffic.

Splash photo by Josh Johnson
The city plans to implement a six-year street maintenance program in 2013 that would target roads the city inherited from Spokane County, such as Mission Avenue (pictured).

Submitted rendering
Only the painting remains for the completion of the new library entryway, shown here from its original design.

Splash photo by Josh Johnson
Additional planters were added in March to the Nature's Place at Meadowwood Arboretum to help relieve the waiting list of residents wanting one of the city's community garden plots.

Splash photo by Josh Johnson
From near the backstop at Liberty Lake Elementary School, one can gaze through the fence at the site that the city of Liberty Lake hopes to transform into competition-level ball fields that could be used by the community as early as the 2014 season.

Submitted rendering
This circuit course concept gives an idea of the types of equipment planned for installation this year at Rocky Hill Park.

Submitted rendering
This vision for Town Square Park is the least likely of the 10 items on the list to be completed this year. The street on the bottom side of the rendering is Meadowwood Lane, and the red car is shown in an area where the Liberty Lake Farmers Market is normally set up. The vegetation on the right side of the drawing represents a buffer to the building that currently houses Barlows Family Restaurant.
Click on the image to see a larger view. 

How will it be paid for?
The construction of the roundabout will be paid for with a combination of federal funding, and the city will be using money collected over the years into the Harvard Road Mitigation Fund - which was established in 2002 to collect funds from developers of projects that impact traffic along the thoroughfare - to pay for matching components to the project.

The preliminary estimate for the total cost of the project is between $1 million and $1.3 million, Allen said.

"It won't be any more than that," she said. "We're thinking we have more than sufficient funding."

Task 2: Public art for the Harvard Road Roundabout
What will be accomplished by this project?
As part of the new roundabout's design, a 12-foot diameter, 20-foot high space for public art has been set aside. It would be located closer to the west side of the roundabout - or opposite the "Welcome to Liberty Lake" brick monument sign greeting the off-ramp traffic. A citizen group has been assembled to help select an artist and review a submittal for the City Council to approve. The reputation of Liberty Lake as a place for "gathering, music and recreation" is an anticipated theme for the project, Allen said.

"We want that art to become part of Liberty Lake's vocabulary," Allen said. "So when you're at that intersection, people will say, ‘You know that "blank," that's where you (turn).'"

What is the timeline for completion?
As a separate project from the DOT's involvement in the roundabout, Allen said the public art component won't be installed until sometime after the roundabout's completion - likely in 2014. Allen said the intent is to make sure it is designed and procured this year, however, so that fabrication and installation could take place as soon as all of the associated factors make sense.

How will it be paid for?
The Harvard Road Mitigation Fund, which had a balance of more than $550,000 when the project was first being discussed last summer, will be tapped for the matching roundabout costs first, with remaining funds to be utilized for the public art project.

Task 3: Sprague Avenue Trail
What will be accomplished by this project?
A 10-foot wide asphalt trail will be constructed along the north side of Sprague Avenue between Liberty Lake Road and Molter Road as well as from the Liberty Lake Golf Course clubhouse down the hill to where Sprague curves into Neyland Avenue. The new sections of trail would effectively serve as connectors between pedestrian pathways already constructed.

What is the timeline for completion?
The city hopes to proceed with the project as soon as the bids are returned. Allen estimates construction to start in "the June to July timeframe." The project shouldn't take long once construction begins, but even if things are delayed, the project is almost sure to happen this year. An interlocal agreement stipulating the usage of the funding (see below) requires the trail to be completed by October 2013.

How will it be paid for?
The trail will be completely funded by Transportation Benefit District monies. Liberty Lake voters approved the TBD in the late 1990s as a way to tax themselves to build trails in the community. The funds, similar to the Harvard Road Mitigation Fund, have already been collected and are awaiting usage so the TBD can be closed out. Spokane County, which controlled the purse strings on the TBD as it was created prior to the city's incorporation, approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Liberty Lake at the beginning of this year, and the TBD balance of $264,160 will be applied to the design and construction of the trail.

Task 4: TBD Street Maintenance Project
What will be accomplished by this project?
Currently wrapping up and assessing the results of studies of the condition of Liberty Lake streets, Allen said the staff plans to present a six-year street maintenance program to the City Council on April 16. Specifically, this plan will target improvements to what she refers to as roads that "were built for another era" - those inherited from the county and originally built for a more rural use. Allen said these roads are truly the "backbone of our transportation system" and include thoroughfares such as Liberty Lake Road, Molter, Mission (stretches in both west and east Liberty Lake), Valleyway and Appleway.

"What we want to do is rebuild these roads, so there has been a lot of coring going on, we're going to get those results and then we're going to prioritize how to come in and rebuild or overlay these roads," Allen said. "And we want to do one project this year. We haven't decided which one yet because we want to see the data, but I will say the most complaints we get right now is on Mission (in east Liberty Lake)."

Allen emphasized that doing the job right is paramount to the city's rebuilding projects, saying that  focus on drainage and substructure will be key to preserving the life of the roads.

"If you don't fix them correctly, you will spend dollars after dollars, year after year, trying to band-aid a repair," she said. "We want to do it right, and we want to do it efficiently. We have seen communities that aren't able to take care of their roads, and the price tag gets bigger and the roads get worse every year that it's deferred, so we want to take care of the county roads that we inherited."

What is the timeline for completion?
The construction timeline will be determined after the project is identified, but funds are set aside for a major project to be completed in 2013.

How will it be paid for?
Allen said there are two parts to the funding. First, the city has approximately $1 million in its street capital fund, which is also used for plowing, striping, lighting and a variety of other things - including maintenance. The city also has identified $440,000 in utility tax funding to be used this year for the project. Money that has accrued in these accounts will be used strategically as part of the road maintenance plan over time, Allen explained.

"My gut tells me what it's going to look like is that every other year we spend $800,000," she said. "Every year we're collecting dollars, and then we do these projects every other year, so we get the efficiency of doing it right, but we're paying for it as we go."

Task 5: Library entryway
What will be accomplished by this project?
The entryway to the Liberty Lake Municipal Library received a new covering and improved accessibility late in 2012. The only remaining portion to be completed is a "kind of a Wazzu red," Allen said.

What is the timeline for completion?
The construction work was finished last November and December. The painting will be done in April, weather permitting, Allen said.

How will it be paid for?
Baker Construction was awarded the project last fall with a $53,000 bid. Allen said the library capital fund - with significant support from fundraising efforts by the Friends of the Liberty Lake Municipal Library and the Liberty Lake Library Foundation - covered the cost of the project as part of the 2012 budget.

Task 6: Glass wall partition for library children's area
What will be accomplished by this project?
It is exactly what it sounds like: a glass wall is scheduled to be constructed to help section off the children's library from the rest of the library.

What is the timeline for completion?
Allen said this project will likely be accomplished in the fall.

How will it be paid for?
Allen said funds are available, but not yet earmarked in the library capital fund for the project. No estimate on the cost of the project has been made yet, but when it comes in the Council will be asked to make a budget amendment to direct funding to the project.

Task 7: New planters for community gardens
What will be accomplished by this project?
Last year, the city's popular community garden plots at Rocky Hill Park and Nature's Place at Meadowwood Arboretum filled quickly with eager green thumbs - and incurred a waiting list. The city recently added 12 new beds to the Arboretum Community Garden, a comfortable increase over the eight that were already in place.

What is the timeline for completion?
The project was completed in March.

How will it be paid for?
The 2013 city budget included $25,000 set aside for Arboretum costs. The new raised beds cost about $6,500 of this budget.

Task 8: Liberty Lake Ball Fields
What will be accomplished by this project?
This is the large vacant field next to Liberty Lake Elementary School the city purchased from the Central Valley School District last year to improve - until the time comes when the district is ready to build on the site. The eventual intention is to build ball fields on the site. In 2013, Allen said the goal is to grade, seed and irrigate the site. She does not anticipate any public usage for the site in 2013.

What is the timeline for completion?
In April, a site concept by landscape architect Mike Terrell will be completed that will enable to the city to begin pricing out what the costs will be for build out. With the funding set aside for the project in 2013, it's anticipated that the groundwork will be laid for usage in 2014, if further funding is available at that time.

"It would be very good if we can get some seed down this year on the site, and that way it will be established next year," Allen said. "Our goal is to target playing ball in the summer/fall of 2014. That's going to require more resources than we have right now, but it doesn't diminish our commitment to the project."

How will it be paid for?
The 2013 budget set aside $500,000 for the project in 2013, and the city will be forming a plan to see how far that will go in the coming weeks. Allen said that based upon the feedback from the Council, the project is likely going to be pay-as-you-go, so the estimates that come in from the site concept will be factored into the 2014 budget to help determine future strides on the site.

Task 9: Fallen Heroes workout station at Rocky Hill Park
What will be accomplished by this project?
The Fallen Heroes Circuit Course is an outdoor exercise feature that is planned to eventually be installed at five city-owned properties in Liberty Lake, spanning a five-mile loop to honor each respective branch of the military. The first installment is intended to be placed in Rocky Hill Park in an area between the play area and the tennis courts.

What is the timeline for completion?
Allen said the project will be done in the early summer.

How will it be paid for?
The city has allocated $35,000 toward the project, and an additional $4,350 is being raised privately. Donations to close the remaining gap on the $4,350 are currently being sought. To help with this project, call 389-6060.

Task 10: Phase 1 of Town Square Park
What will be accomplished by this project?
Well, it depends. Funding is currently being sought from the state legislature to construct parking, trails and an amphitheater as a first step to development on the 6.4-acre site the city owns adjacent to the Liberty Lake Farmers Market. Allen described the prospects for receiving that funding  as "very challenging."

However, the city still hopes to talk to STA on joint work that would at least build out the parking portion of the site. The nearby STA lot is constantly overflowing, and building the parking lot portion of the site this year would help STA in the near term as well as the Farmers Market on the weekends.

What is the timeline for completion?
Allen said the city will know by late April whether it will be getting state funding for the project.
"If funding materializes from the state, then we would want to move the project forward to the summer/fall of 2013," Allen said. "If it doesn't happen, then we're revisiting a reduced scope and coordinating with STA, and at this point, if that's the route we have to go, it would be difficult to get something done this year" - unless the project received a sudden priority from a stakeholders in the project.
 
How will it be paid for?
A state grant would help pay for a price tag of nearly $850,000 - in the improbable event it is approved. Should the funding not come through, the city wouldn't likely spend money on the project this year, but instead make plans with STA on a future project.


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