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Talent agency deliberates on $22 million gateway project

The Talent Urban Renewal Agency board of directors met for an hour in executive session Wednesday to discuss the town’s $22 million Gateway Project. It was the second executive session held in a week.

TURA and DOSO Properties, LLC signed a disclosure and development agreement in September that called for the company to develop most of the agency’s 4.3-acre Gateway property at the corner of Highway 99 and West Valley View Road.

A 60-unit affordable senior housing project is included in the concept. A final agreement is dependent upon a successful environmental analysis, which is nearly complete.

“It was always anticipated we’d do a more extensive DDA once we got past the (environmental study) period,” agency Executive Director Sandra Spelliscy said prior to Wednesday’s meeting. News media may attend executive sessions but are not allowed to report on the proceedings.

The agency is awaiting phase two of the environmental analysis to make sure there isn’t contamination, TURA Deputy Executive Director Zac Moody said. Based on its latest information the agency doesn’t anticipate having to do remedial work.

Two fuel tanks discovered underground during the analysis have been removed. There was some leakage but it was contained, said Spelliscy.

“We removed some soil, but we are in pretty good shape,” she added.

Alpine Environmental is conducting the phase two study and hired subcontractors to remove the tanks, Moody said. A state grant was awarded to conduct the study, and TURA has budgeted money to cover any cleanup costs.

TURA’s board, which is composed of all City Council members, approved the September agreement with DOSO on a split vote. The firm would buy two lots for $1 each and would pay appraised market value for a townhouse site and have an option to purchase a fourth lot. Under the agreement, TURA would supply $590,000 to assist with architectural design, engineering, geotechnical studies and land-use permitting for the project.

The September agreement also called for construction of a commercial building, 20 townhouses and public open space.

The agency purchased the 4.3 acres in 2016 for $1.8 million. A $60,000 state transportation development grant paid for the plan, which came up with the $22 million estimate to develop the entire area.

In other board news, action on a proposal to shift money for an extension of Wagner Street at the project site was postponed due to the length of the meeting. The board will consider transferring $150,000 from its contingency fund to the Gateway Project to pay for design, engineering and construction of the street.

A Wagner Street extension would ultimately be part of a third leg from a roundabout that connects Main Street with West Valley View Road.

The agency had hoped to purchase the entire Talent Irrigation District property to build the leg, but the district declined to sell. Access would still need to be secured through part of the district’s land to link the roundabout to Wagner. Approval at the Dec. 19 board meeting would leave TURA with a $1,110,914 contingency fund and result in a balance of $234,000 for the Gateway project.

Spelliscy, who was selected to be Talent city manager in August, became the agency’s executive director in October. She succeeded Moody, who was named interim director in November of 2017 after former Executive Director/City Manager Tom Corrigan was put on leave. Moody is also the town’s community development director.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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