$500,000 approved for purchase of properties in right-of-way of North Shore Levee

Grays Harbor County Commissioners approved $500,000 in funding to the City of Aberdeen Tuesday to purchase four properties needed to accommodate construction of the North Shore Levee.

“There are four properties, two in Aberdeen, two in Hoquiam, that need to be purchased to complete the flood wall,” said Commission President Randy Ross.

The money comes from Distressed Area Capital Improvement Funds, which supports economic development. It’s going to Aberdeen because it is the lead entity on the North Shore Levee project, said Ross. The project calls for flood control measures along the north side of the Chehalis River between the west side of the Wishkah River and the east side of the Hoquiam River. Aberdeen and Hoquiam are partnering on the project, which will rely on state and federal funding, along with staff support from the two cities.

Commissioner Vickie Raines recalled that at least some of the properties are currently occupied, and one is a commercial property. A list of specific properties was not available immediately after the meeting.

These funds are returns on sales tax paid to the state, sometimes called .09 funds for the portion of sales tax set aside. They are used to promote economic development and are available to qualifying entities like cities and ports. Raines said the amount of funds available in the county averages around $900,000 annually.

The commissioners said past uses of the funding included $300,000 last year for Port of Grays Harbor dredging, the Seabrook pump station, the recent fiber optic cable landing study by the Port of Grays Harbor and the PUD, and they are also used to support the economic development activities of Greater Grays Harbor Inc.

Business Park power study

Commissioners also approved $50,000 in .09 funds for the Satsop Business Park’s study of ways to increase its power capacity. This is a joint venture between the Port of Grays Harbor and the PUD, as was the recent fiber optic cable landing study.

Ross said the park has already neared its capacity to provide power and another business the size of Overstock, one of the largest tenants, could come close to tapping it out, and business park manager of business development Alissa Shay said the current power supply does not meet potential power demands.

The current power capacity at the Satsop Business Park is 40 megawatts. The study will examine ways to double that capacity, possibly by connecting the existing PUD substation at the business park to a nearby Bonneville Power Association substation.

Along with the $50,000 approved by the county, the PUD and Port are chipping in the additional $25,000 needed to fund the study, the results of which should be available later this year.

Flood Authority support

Commissioners are also drafting a letter of support for the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority’s 2019 capital budget request to the Legislature, which Ross said includes $73 million in flood mitigation, $10 million of which would be for the North Shore Levee.

The $10 million would go toward purchasing properties in the right-of-way of the levee, permit fees and the construction of a new Fry Creek pump station in Aberdeen. An additional $3.8 million has been requested for Keys Road flood protection and design work on the westside extension levee to protect properties west of the Hoquiam River not covered in the original North Shore Levee design, among other regionwide projects.