The City of Shelton is stopping work on the 17-year-old project known as the SR-3 Historic Entryway Corridor Improvement (commonly called the “Pear Orchard”) and SR-3 Park & Ride Entryway Corridor Improvement. The City will also have to repay over $400,000 in expended grant funding.
This project is one of several identified in October that City staff has failed to move forward and the first to be axed by the Shelton City Commission. The City Commissioners held a special meeting Thursday morning to discuss their options on the Park & Ride project.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the grants for the project, has been waiting for the City’s response after placing the Park & Ride on their inactive projects list and requesting the City repay the funding or reapply for the funding along with justifying the delay since funding was awarded in 1999 and 2005.
The City Commission had three options: 1) ask DOT to continue funding both aspects of the project; 2) ask DOT to allow funding for only the Park & Ride to continue; or 3) halt both projects and repay the grant funding the City has already spent. All three options came with the City repaying funds and/or expending additional money to complete the project. Their was also the possibility that DOT would decide not to let the project continue and demand repayment.
The approval to halt the Pear Orchard and Park & Ride came on a two to one vote. Commissioner Tracy Moore wanted to continue with the Park & Ride portion of the project while Commissioner Kathy McDowell and Mayor Gary Cronce decided it would be better for the City to cut its losses, saying the project can be brought back at a later date when the City is in a better financial position.
Thursday’s action also included approving a letter to Neal Campbell, Local Programs Engineer for WSDOT Olympic Region explaining why the City is halting the project as well as explaining why the project has “languished” for 17 years.
The letter points to “poorly made decisions” by previous staff, lack of funding, and “budgetary limitations and struggles” as reasons to terminate further work on the project.
The City also must include a check for $411,370.30 which staff wasn’t immediately able to identify where those funds will come.