Thursday, March 6, 2008

Capital Improvement Investment in Vancouver

There is much press about the City's investment of money and resources in downtown Vancouver. While the revitalization of the 'heart' of our city is important for the entirety of Vancouver, the reality is that the city spends more resources on the east side of our city. Those projects simply don't get the attention that downtown seems to receive.

The City of Vancouver made significant investments in capital infrastructure between 2002 and 2007. This report is a summary of the 2002-2007 capital projects separated into East and West using Andresen Street as a dividing line.

The total investment in capital projects from 2002-2007 is approximately $243.3 million. Of this total, $158.3 million was spent on the East side and $85.0 million was spent on the West side.

The City’s capital expenditures generally fall into the following four major project types:

  • Transportation
  • Public Works
  • Parks
  • General Governmental

Each type is explained in more detail below.

Capital projects in Transportation include planning, development and construction of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, traffic signals, street lights, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. The total investment in Transportation from 2002-2007 was $122.5 million, including state, federal grants and other external sources of funding.

The split here is $80.9 million or 66% for projects in East Vancouver and $41.6 million or 34% for projects in West Vancouver.

Major East side transportation projects:
SE 192nd Avenue from SE 1st to SR 14 Interchange $27.7 million
Burton Road Corridor from 86th Avenue to 112th Avenue $9.8 million
NE 138th Avenue from 18th Street to 28th Street $8.6 million
NE 28th Street – 112th Avenue to 142nd Avenue $5.2 million

Major West side transportation projects:
Confluences Land Bridge (Federal, state, private funding) $11.2 million
Fruit Valley Road Corridor $7.1 million
Various Fourth Plain Projects $3.8 million
6th Street Traffic and Pedestrian Improvement $2.5 million
NW 26th Street Bypass Planning Study $2.0 million

Public Works
Capital projects in Public Works include comprehensive planning, engineering design, and project management of various infrastructure and facilities in the water, wastewater, and surface water management areas. The total investment in Public Works from 2002-2007 was $48.2 million, with $31.9 million or 66% for projects in East Vancouver and $16.3 million or 34% for projects in West Vancouver.

Major East side public works projects:
Burnt Bridge Creek Regional Wetland Bank and
Greenway Trails – East $5.8 million
Land Acquisition for Public Works East Operations Center $4.8 million

Major West side public works projects:
Burnt Bridge Creek Regional Wetland Bank and
Greenway Trails – West $3.9 million
Pretreatment Lagoon Land $2.8 million

Capital projects in Parks include planning and development of the park system including neighborhood parks, community parks, and trails. Capital expenditures are also made for land acquisition and construction of community centers. Although Parks provides planning, acquisition, and development services for Clark County, only projects within the City limits are included in this report. The total investment in Parks from 2002-2007 was $50.9 million, with $35.7 million or 70% for projects in East Vancouver and $15.2 million or 30% for projects in West Vancouver.

Major East side parks projects:
Firstenburg Community Center $24.6 million
Haagen Community Park Phase II $1.9 million Fisher Basin Park $1.1 million

Major West side parks projects:
Marshall/Luepke Community Center Remodel $9.7 million
Marshall Community Park $1.5 million
Property Acquisition in Park District 1 $1.5 million

General Governmental
Capital projects in General Governmental include major repairs of existing facilities and construction of new facilities for Public Safety and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The total investment in General Governmental from 2002-2007 was $21.7 million, with $9.7 million or 45% for projects in East Vancouver and $11.9 million or 55% for projects in West Vancouver.

Major East side general governmental projects:
East Police Precinct $8 million
Fire Station 87 on Andresen (1/2 of total investment) $1.45 million

Major West side general governmental projects:
Vancouver National Historic Reserve - West Barracks $4.6 million Fire Station 87 on Andresen (1/2 of total investment) $1.45 million

Vancouver's Waterfront -- The Boise Cascade Property

Graymor Development has recently completed the purchase of the old Boise Cascade property on the Columbia River waterfront of the City of Vancouver. With approximately 30 acres of land at the edge of the River, Graymor is in the planning stages for layout, infrastructure and financing of the development. Graymor is looking for public support from the City of Vancouver for the project, including financing and completion of transportation improvements to create greater accesibility to the site from downtown Vancouver; the BNSF existing railroad berm is the barrier between downtown and the waterfront.

At this point, there is a shortfall in funding of the needed roadway improvements to the tune of some $15 million from the expected public participation. City Staff and the City Council are working with other public partners, including the County and the State to assist in supporting the funding shortfall. The City Council is also beginning discussions about other potential funding sources.

The following is correspondence and request for response I recently received regarding this issue:

The truth finally emerges!!Just where in hell does the City of Vancouver envision raising $40 Million for their initial investment at Boise?? \The estimate to synchronize the traffic lights on Mill Plain is only $20 Million, and the City has been tried (and failed) to fund that for at least 5 years.The City doesn't have the $400,000 it needs right now to fund the Gang Task Force for this year, or the $1 Million they need for it next can anyone justify even considering spending any public money on what is a private development at the Boise Cascade site??And why in hell would anyone work to deliberately create the kind of traffic congestion in Downtown Vancouver, other than to eventually try to use those 20,000 additional car trips to justify even more outrageous spending in Downtown?? Do you think they might try and build a streetcar line once they gat all of those car trips?? I sure do!!This whole project is a house of cards, and the City can't afford to pay that kind of money into Gramor's project without some sort of significant tax increase, and that means a ballot measure that wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing. Why continue this charade??Still very much a developing debacle at Boise Cascade. This isn't about development, it's about money and power in The 'Couv.

My Response:

Yes, disappointing that we didn't get any financial support from the State.
Interesting to see how Graymor proceeds...with the public participation in the project continuing to struggle to find solid ground.

With the present challenges of funding programs like the gang taskforce, it is difficult to keep an eye on the long-range picture.
I'm certain we'll have serious conversations about reprioritizing to support the police department.
However, I also think there needs to be resources focused on the prevention/intervention aspects of gangs.
(I'm working on some of those types of projects now...)
The government and police department can't be expected to curb gang activity through enforcement only.
The costs to hire all the police and build all the jail space needed would bankrupt the public.

Anyway, I digress there....

Here's how I see the Boise site:

For every $1 of public money invested in the infrastructure of the Boise Site, it's estimated that $30 of private money will be spent on the development.
The project will have office spaces, housing, restaurants, shops, etc., to the tune of some $1.3 billion investment by private development.
Lots of jobs (during construction and afterwards, keeping folks on our side of the river), housing (building homes where the water/sewer/etc. is in place or nearby...reducing sprawl and ultimate costs to the public), shopping (helping keep retail spending on our side of the river), and public access to the waterfront (trails, open space...presently not available because Boise is a private property on the river).
All of this bodes well for the sustainable future of our community. More jobs, more housing, more shopping opportunities, more public access...resulting in more tax $$$ to the City, C-TRAN, County, Library, State, etc.
If I recall correctly, the project at full build out will result 1 million square feet of office space, 10 acres of public space and around 2,500 residential units.
Really important to me is the approximate 2,500 new permanent jobs that will be located there.
The estimate is that at buildout, this project will generate $235 million in new state and local taxes over the following 25 years...helping future city councils pay for those police/fire/etc.
Another $150 million in taxes is estimated to go to the State.
OVERALL, a pretty good return to the public for a few million my opinion.