The Community Corrections transition center, the Sunset Beach property sale and a long-range financial plan are the top three goals of the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners.

The board settled on those three projects as its top priorities for the year at an afternoon-long retreat Monday at Camp Kiwanilong.

"We did good work in narrowing the goals to three projects, the key ones to work on with staff," board Chairwoman Helen Westbrook said. "That's progress."

It's a shorter list than the nine projects the board identified last year as its top goals. The three were chosen from suggestions that included an Astoria bypass, streamlining some county departments and re-examining the North Coast Business Park.

The goals are all projects the county has been pursuing, in some cases for years. But progress is being made on all three, the commissioners were told.

Assistant County Administrator Debra Kraske said the board will be presented next week with a draft purchase agreement with the Trust for Public Lands for the 149-acre county-owned Sunset Beach property.

Last year, the board split over proposals to sell the land either to the Trust, which intends to turn the property over to the National Parks Service, or to a golf course developer. In January, with new commissioners Westbrook and Lylla Gaebel on board, the commissioner voted to pursue a deal with TPL.

The National Park Service plans to use the Sunset Beach property for its planned trail linking Fort Clatsop National Memorial to the beach.

After several months of sometimes frustrating discussions the county is also closing in on an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow the transition center project to proceed. The Corps has threatened the county with legal action over damage to wetlands at the North Coast Business Park in Warrenton, proposed site of the transition center, but both sides are engaged in negotiations over a settlement that will clear the hurdles for the project.

Kraske said the delay has cost the county a $305,000 federal grant for the project. The county could re-apply for the funds, which are administered through Oregon State Police, but that might add more delays, she said. Community Corrections Director Danny Jordan will give the board an update on the project at an upcoming meeting, she said.

The transition center is designed as a short-term residential facility for low-level offenders.

The long-range financial plan, which was on the 2002 goals list as well, is designed to provide the county with a roadmap for future budget-making efforts. County Administrator Jim Azumano said county staff are working with an accountant to put together a scope of work for the project, which will be contracted out to a private firm.

The proposed timeline calls for the county to put the project out for bid and pick a bidder by November, and have the plan completed by spring 2004.

Diana Corder, community development manager for Pacific Power and the session's facilitator, said Clatsop County was unique among the many local governments she's worked with in pursuing such a plan.

Commissioner Richard Lee said he wants the financial plan to address the county's use of its share of timber revenue from the Clatsop State Forest. Those revenues have been increasing in recent years, but Lee said he's worried about the county's growing reliance on the money to fund daily operations.


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