The costs for a city-operated emergency shelter are beginning to mount, even with a generous donation from a local business operator.

Although builder Mike Clark has offered to pay $250,000 toward construction of the 2,000-square-foot shelter, the Cannon Beach City Council may have to pay nearly $650,000 more to complete it.

“It’s a big bite to swallow,” said Mayor Mike Morgan said during a City Council meeting April 2. “It would take all of our disposable general fund money.”

Morgan made the comment after City Planner Rainmar Bartl outlined the potential costs for an emergency shelter that could hold 70 cots and contain a small kitchen and restrooms.

The shelter would be built on the city-owned “sports park” south of town north of the Tolovana Mainline east of U.S. Highway 101.

Bartl gave the City Council two construction options: Option one would have “stand alone” on-site utility systems not connected to the city’s utilities, and option two would be connected to the city’s utilities as well as have duplicate on-site systems that wouldn’t depend on the city’s infrastructure.

Both options call for a shelter that would survive a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and function as a shelter after an off-shore Cascadia earthquake and tsunami.

However, option one would allow only limited use of the shelter during non-emergencies, while option two, with its connections to city utilities, would enable more flexibility in the shelter’s use.

Proposals for the shelter when it’s not housing people in an emergency have included using it as a food pantry, a community center or a school.

The design also includes an emergency helipad area, which would allow helicopters to fly in and out of Cannon Beach to pick up injured people or drop off supplies.

Clark, owner of Coaster Construction Co. in Cannon Beach, offered $250,000 toward the shelter’s construction. But, according to Bartl’s estimates it will take far more than that to complete.

While the cost to study the site’s geologic suitability, to grade and prepare it and to construct the building are about the same for both options – approximately $400,000 -- the increased expenses come with site improvements, sewage disposal and power supply.

Site improvements, including access, parking, landscaping and storm water drainage are estimated at $35,000 to $50,000 for option one, while they could be as high as $100,000 in option two, Bartl said.

In addition, option one includes only an on-site sand filter septic system, costing an estimated $25,000, but option two includes connections to the city sewer as well as the sand filter system, adding $40,000 to the cost.

“We fully expect the sewer system will be broken in some places after a Cascadia earthquake,” Bartl said.

In both options, water would be supplied by connecting to the city’s system as well as by on-site water tanks, at a total cost of $15,000. An on-site creek and an abandoned water source that used to serve the Tolovana Park area before it was annexed to Cannon Beach might be a water source during recovery following the earthquake, Bartl said.

A power supply in option one would come from an on-site generator, at a cost of $50,000. Option two would include the generator and add a connection to the Pacific Power grid, at $20,000.

Option two would also include a connection to a Northwest Natural gas line, at $15,000. A communications system, costing $35,000 would be part of the option two design, as well.

Bartl also suggested investigating the possibility of solar power, which would provide two to four days of power at a cost of $30,597 to $40,915. City Councilor Sam Steidel suggested that Bartl might look into wind generation, and Bartl agreed.

Professional services for each option are expected to be between $50,000 and $66,000. A 30 percent contingency would add another $154,500 to $202,000 to the price tag, which Bartl called “pretty common for this stage of analysis.”

Depending on the options the council chooses, the total cost for the emergency shelter could be $669,500 to $877,00, Bartl estimated.

The City Councilors asked whether funds could be budgeted over the next two to three years for the shelter, and Bartl said it would be possible. The initial geological analysis and building design could be done first, and the site improvements and construction could come next, Bartl said.

Asked if option one could be done first and option two later, Public Works Director Mark See said it would be possible, although it would take slightly more money to add the permanent services after construction.

All of the permanent connections would be sized to serve additional structures – including a proposed school – on the 55 acres the city has a purchase option on adjacent to the sports park.

The permanent connections would be “an investment in the future,” See said.

City Councilor Nancy Giasson asked if the shelter would be big enough to house a food pantry, which would include refrigerators and an area large enough to store food. The current food pantry is operated in the Cannon Beach Bible Church.

“Even in a shelter you need to have some place to store cots and food,” Giasson said.

Bartl said those considerations would be part of the next phase of analysis. The building could be expanded, he added, “but the more expansive the building is, the more the costs go up.”

He noted that the sports park site also would include an area where cargo containers would be placed to store residents’ emergency supplies. Room might be available in those containers to store food for the pantry, he said.

The shelter has its limits, Bartl said.

“The shelter only holds 70 people,” he added. “This is not the solution to the worst tsunami we could get.”

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