Public meeting set to discuss street conditions

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer January 13, 2014 11:28 am

JOSEPH — The City of Joseph is looking ahead to improve its infrastructure in the not-too-distant future with increased street maintenance and cost-saving measures to power its water supply. 

Representatives from Anderson Perry and Associates of La Grande and Wallowa Resources presented options last week to fix the city’s streets and to conduct a feasibility study to install a hydropower generator on the city’s water intake from Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa River.

Brad Baird of Anderson Perry outlined a road survey and draft plan offering three alternatives from which the city could choose to fix its streets. Brandon Mahon accompanied Baird and said they had driven all the streets and rated them based on their quality.

Mahon said Option 1 calls for paving all of the city’s streets, Option 2 is to pave primary streets and use chip seal for secondary streets, and Option 3 is to chip seal all streets.

Some improvement can be completed by using the city’s allocation of the state’s gas tax, but, Mahon said, it is not enough. 

Another option that would save the city some money would be to let some of the streets go back to gravel, Mahon said.

Baird said cost estimates were lower than he expected. 

Option 3 would cost each household about $8 a month, while Option 1 would cost about $17 a month. A back-of-the-envelope estimate determined that either adding the fee to the city’s water user’s bill, as is done in La Grande, or tacking it on to property tax, would cost the same.

Mayor Dennis Sands suggested that the council put the decision to the voters in the May primary. A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m Jan. 23 at the Joseph High School.

Matt King from Community Solutions, Inc., a subsidiary of Enterprise’s Wallowa Resources, has been in conversation with the council for more than a year regarding a feasibility study to determine if its in the city’s best interest to install a hydro plant at the city’s water intake. 

The system now has a pressure reduction valve; a hydropower generator would replace the valve while creating energy. 

A hydro turbine project would have a lifetime of at least 30 years, with 20 years of direct power savings for the city. It costs approximately $1,000 a month in electricity to run the water plant, Sands said.