COTTAGE GROVE –– A special regular meeting was placed on Cottage Grove City Council’s calendar for July 31 to discuss the recruitment process for a new city manager, as Richard Meyers announced his upcoming retirement a couple weeks ago, which will go into effect on Oct. 1.
However, two motions were discussed and passed at this meeting as well. A motion passed to approve the purchase and sale agreement for 61.06 acres from Grace West Properties LLC for $2.8 million and authorize the city manager to sign the agreement. The purchase is proposed to close on or before Sept. 30.
Purchase of the property would allow the City to design and install the necessary roads, water, sewer, and storm infrastructure to support development of the property for both industrial and housing development – though only about 20-25 acres of the parcel would be used toward industrial development. The 61.06 acres of land fall just south of Lincoln Middle School. The portion of the parcel that will be used toward industrial development is the triangular shape in between Highway 99 and Coast Fork Willamette River, north of Finney Creek.
Once the infrastructure needs are designed for the site, the remaining property, approximately 55 acres — which is the area that is north of Cleveland Avenue, south of East Hayes Avenue, and west of Patrick Court — would be sold.
Meyers said this parcel purchase is an intricate attempt to remedy the housing crisis and called this a “partnership approach” – meaning that the City will put in some work toward making the land more appealing for housing developers to build on it.
“We made an offer for the whole 61 acres, and the plan for the council is that the other portion of that would be residential,” Meyers said. “We put in some of the major pieces of infrastructure and get it master planned through the planning commission. … And then go to the developers and say, ’Here’s the property. You’ve got water and sewer to the sites; you’ve got roads; you’ve got everything set up. … What do you give us for this piece? And if you buy this piece, then you’ve got to build this kind of housing.”
Staff has been working with D.A. Davidson, Banner Bank, and legal counsel on selling bonds to cover the purchase and associated closing costs. The bond sale will take 6-8 weeks to complete. The street, water, wastewater, storm, and park funds will purchase the needed property for the new infrastructure, and the sale of the remaining property should repay the debt.
“We’re buying the whole 61 acres for $2.8 million, and we’ll probably recoup almost all of that in the sale for the industrial site,” Meyers said.
A second motion passed was to award the South 6th Street water and wastewater extension project to H&J Construction and authorize the city manager to sign the contract and all other associated documents.
On June 28, Cottage Grove posted an Invitation to Bid for an extension of the water and wastewater utility lines by 300 feet on South 6th Street from Cleveland to the former Hillside Market. Sealed bids were due on July 13, and there were two bids received: one from H&J Construction for $176,740, and one from Wildish Construction Co. for $272,391.90. As H&J Construction was the low bidder, it was recommended that the City move forward with them.
“The whole goal here is to extend our main line down to (the property owner’s) property so that they can attach their service lines to our main lines,” Faye Stewart, who is the public works and development director, said.
The total cost of the contract will be paid by the water and wastewater reserve funds.
Replacing the city manager
As Meyers announced his intention to retire at the July 10 city council meeting, the Council must discuss the recruitment process options to hire a replacement.
Meyers’ last day will be Sept. 29, although he anticipates that it will take up to six months to find his replacement.
The process to recruit a new city manager is a 10 step process, which is laid out in the League of Oregon Cities’ “Guide to Recruiting a City Administrator.” Step one, which is “Define Position and Develop Profile” began at the July 31 special regular meeting and can take up to two weeks.
The discussion centered around whether to hire a private recruiting firm to do the following steps or to do them in house:
• Search for appropriate candidates
• Screen them based on city requirements
• Set up interview schedules/assist the council with interviews or selection
Meyers recommended using a third party, and the councilors unanimously agreed that hiring a third party consulting firm was the best course of action. The price of $15,000-20,000 for a recruiting firm was considered lower than expected.
The next step in the recruitment process will be deciding which recruitment firm to choose, and that is hoped to be discussed at the next City Council meeting.