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Ashland will begin and end a flurry of construction projects

ASHLAND - Nearly $20 million in major civic projects will be completed or started under the city's auspices during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Included in the list are the city's first-ever multi-level parking structure, paving of dirt lanes, library renovation, a new fire station, a new wastewater treatment system and remodeled administrative space. Grants, loans, bond levies, taxes and fees fund the city's share of the projects.

Parking should be available in early July in the three-story structure off Hargadine Street. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is building the structure on city land. The city will own and operate it.

A total of 145 parking spaces will ultimately be available. OSF will use the lowest level for construction staging while it finishes an adjacent theater building.

The city will fund about $726,000 of the $2.38 million project. It will use grant and loan funds from the state of Oregon to cover its obligation. Parking revenues will be used to pay off the loan.

City officials hope library renovations will begin within 30 days. The city is acting as construction manager for Jackson County. Funds come from a countywide library levy. The project will add 13,000 square feet to the existing Carnegie building.

Adroit Construction of Ashland was the low bidder for the job at $4.2 million. County officials will work with the firm to bring the project within the $4.03 million budget. Work is expected to take 14 to 18 months.

Bid and construction documents are being prepared for the 15,000 square-foot fire station at Siskiyou Boulevard and East Main. Voters in November 1999 approved a $3.1 million bond levy to replace the current station.

Fire Chief Keith Woodley expects the project to go to bid in July with ground breaking in September. Firefighters and equipment will move into a metal building that Public Works is constructing for future use at B and Mountain streets. Construction is expected to take about a year.

Plans to remodel the city-owned former Hillah Temple building on Winburn Way are on hold due to an appeal of the project's Planning Commission approval. Public works and planning offices will be housed in the remodeled facility.

Former Councilman Brent Thompson appealed the project to Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals. He contends the design violates city principles against urban sprawl. Capital improvement funds of $1.9 million are in the 2001-02 fiscal year budget for the remodel.

Formation of a Strawberry Lane Local Improvement District is a few months away, according to City Administrator Greg Scoles. The city set aside $750,000 for its share of the paving, storm drains and sidewalks that will total nearly $2 million. The work includes portions of Strawberry Lane, Alnutt Street and Scenic Drive.

Developers have permits for a 21-home project in the area, but face a June 2002 deadline. Developer LID costs will be approximately $1 million. Homeowners already in the area will pay $202,000. City officials will negotiate with developers to see how much additional cost they might assume. Sufficient objections to formation could delay the project for six months.

A $6.5 million membrane filter system will be installed at the city's wastewater treatment plant. The system is required by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The city has a summer 2002 deadline to reduce phosphorus content in its wastewater, which is released into Bear Creek. State loan funds will pay for the work. The loan will be repaid from city meal tax and sewer fees.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail tboom@mailtribune.com