SEASIDE - To complete costlier than expected downtown lighting improvements, city officials may temporarily shift focus from other projects.

City councilors voted unanimously Monday night to direct city funds toward completing the lighting project. The city money would augment approximately $700,000 set aside for the lighting as the last project of the Trails End Urban Renewal District.

The lowest bids opened on Aug. 29 for the lighting improvements were higher than anticipated - closer to $850,000, City Manager Mark Winstanley said. Members of the Seaside Improvement Commission, a board which includes city councilors but oversees urban renewal district funds, discussed the shortfall last week and decided to forward the issue to the council.

"The urban renewal agency doesn't have an additional $150,000 to complete the project," Winstanley said. "Does the city wish to use any of its funds to augment the Trails End Urban Renewal District funds?"

The city is entitled to complete urban renewal work, he said.

Discussed and refined for years, the project would replace roughly 15 highway-style light posts with nearly 100 lower, new lights along Broadway from U.S. Highway 101 to the Turnaround, as well as Holladay Drive between First Avenue and Avenue A, and along Edgewood Street near the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. The work also will entail replacement of sidewalks and trees.

Construction had been slated to begin in October.

The direction from councilors Monday gives the city staff the chance to consider several options for funding, and an ability for councilors to say "whoa" if final costs make them uncomfortable, Winstanley added.

The city's contribution could come from road funds and gasoline tax revenues, he said. The largest road projects include a major Avenue U upgrade and replacement of the west 12th Avenue Bridge.

By possibly delaying the Avenue U project to next fall rather than next spring, the city might free funds in the current fiscal year for lighting improvements and ensure more time is available for Avenue U design work, Winstanley said. But rather than stating now which road project should have the highest priority after the lighting work is done, engineers for the city also will need to play a role in determining the timing of projects that is most cost effective, he said.

In other action Monday:

• Councilors approved (5-0) a liquor license transfer for the Best Western Oceanview Resort. Terrence Bichsel introduced himself as the leader of an investment group based in Issaquah, Wash., that completed a purchase of the Seaside motel last week from Brian Dion. The existing staff will be retained and no immediate changes are planned, but expansion may be explored in the future, Bichsel said. (Councilors Kathleen Wysong and Stubby Lyons were absent);

• Mayor Rosemary Baker-Monaghan read proclamations that Sept. 17-23 will be "Constitution Week" in recognition of anniversary of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, and that a moment of silence and a brief ceremony will be held noon Wednesday at City Hall, 989 Broadway, in commemoration of Sept. 11, 2001;

• Councilors agreed upon wording for a plaque that will eventually be placed on East Broadway Bridge, reading: "Veterans Memorial Bridge: Dedicated to the men and women of the United States of America, who have answered the call to duty - honor - country. Freedom is not free."

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