Jefferson County commissioners approved grants totaling $831,064 for six infrastructure projects for 2019 at their meeting March 4.
The grants include the following:
• $300,000 for construction of the 7th street corridor in Port Townsend.
• $150,000 for permits and engineering costs for the Point Hudson south jetty renovation.
•$150,000 for Fort Worden employee housing.
•$106,000 for permitting and engineering a water tank in Quilcene.
•$65,000 for improvements to Center Road sidewalks in Quilcene.
• $60,000 for the Jefferson County PUD Water Street Telecom Infrastructure
The money for the projects comes from the Public Infrastructure Fund, which Jefferson County receives from the state due to being an economically disadvantaged county.
“We get a portion of our sales tax back to invest in public infrastructure projects that have the potential to increase the number of our jobs in our community,” said Commission Chair Kate Dean. “These projects should demonstrate the ability to retain and increase jobs within our county.”
State law dictates that the funding go to projects owned by public entities, such as the county, city or port.
It also dictates that the county work in consultation with these other entities to decide which project proposals get funded.
This year, the Public Infrastructure Board consisted of nine members including Dean, Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, Port Commissioner Steve Tucker, PUD Commissioner Dan Toepper, county Central Services Director Mark McCauley, Economic Development Council Treasurer Ben Bauermeister, and citizens-at-large Gary Rowe, James Munn and Joe Johnson.
“We had not distributed these funds for a number of years, so we had a pot of funding,” Dean said. “Also with sales tax being quite high right now, they are continuing to bring in more revenue than in previous years.”
“We prefer to keep something of a reserve in that fund in case of a specific need, but we set a target for about $800,000 in funding to be available for projects and as fortune would have it, we received proposals for $831,000,” Dean said. “Were able to take a close look at all of those projects and ultimately the board decided to propose that all of them be funded in full.”
The grants will not cover the entire cost of each projects, but the board funded what each proposal asked for.
Funding for the Jefferson County PUD will go toward two projects. The first is to design and install a high speed fiber optic “trunk” cable that would provide up to 100 gigabytes per minute internet service to businesses and residents downtown Port Townsend, from Safeway area down Water Street to Point Hudson.
“What is unique about our fiber optic infrastructure is that its open access, meaning any internet service provider that wants to connect to it to provide service to an end user can,” wrote Will O’Donnell, public information officer for the PUD. “And they would be able, should they choose, to deliver true to advertised speeds and symmetrical upload and download speeds, which is what some internet service providers using other state PUD fiber do.”
The other project will include the construction of a 100,000-gallon water tank for fire service and emergency use in Quilcene.
The Public Infrastructure Fund will cover one third of the cost of the construction of 7th street.
A total of $900,000 is needed for this project, which will create two travel lanes with on-street parking on both sides, sidewalks on both sides, a 10-foot-wide multi-use path, a landscape strip and utilities.
The construction of the street goes toward the city’s larger plan for the Upper Sims Way and Rainier Street subarea, which city officials hope will create an “economic engine that will drive job growth and economic sustainability,” according to the project proposal.
Jefferson County Public Works was allocated $65,000 for the Quilcene Complete Streets project, planned to rebuild and resurface the infrastructure on county roads and U.S. Highway 101.
The specific project will replace a 45-year-old asphalt sidewalk with a new surface.
The Port of Port Townsend will use its granted money to fund the permitting, design and engineering for the renovation of the south jetty at the Point Hudson marina.
The plan includes removing failing creosote pilings and replacing them with galvanized steel piles.
The Fort Worden Public Development Authority was granted $150,000, which will support the renovation and reuse of the Fort Worden historic barracks as affordable short-term housing for its employees.
“We were really glad to see this board brought together this year,” Stinson said. “The purpose of this money is to get it into the ground and get it working for the people of Jefferson County, and I was really pleased to see the diversity of that we had on the board, with all the representation.
“I felt like we got a good mix of projects, and I think they were very diverse and very different types of projects, but each one had merit and I felt very confident voting yes on all the projects.”