News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Scio celebrates infrastructure summer successes

The City of Scio is celebrating a summer of public works milestones after multiple infrastructure projects saw completion, with others soon to wrap up.

The city entered 2023 with unprecedented access to almost $3 million in project funds, primarily through federal and state pandemic relief programs and state transportation grants.

This included $1.5 million for a new public works shed, $750,000 for new sidewalks and pedestrian safety features outside schools, and $235,000 for a new public restroom.

City Manager Ginger Allen said these upgrades are “a huge enhancement” for the city that will improve the experiences of both locals and visitors.

The crowning achievement was the construction of the new public works shed, which opened June 7. Allen said the department is still in the process of moving in. Some fixtures remain on back-order, such as a backup generator that may not arrive until well into 2024.

The new space allows the Public Works Department to have all their vehicles and equipment centrally located, cutting down the time needed to perform work. They also have dedicated office space, as opposed to working from a room in City Hall that was essentially a closet.

Allen said it was a pleasure partnering with contractor Andy Medcalf Construction on the project and said they were “a wonderful company to work with.”

The city has also finished a new sidewalk leading to Scio High School through a Small City Allotment Grant, which Allen said will be a first for the school. This is in addition to new pedestrian safety features outside Scio Elementary School and Scio Middle School through a Safe Routes to School Grant.

The city hoped to start a sewer replacement project funded by pandemic relief dollars earlier this year, but ran into obstacles. They plan to go out for bids in September and have until June 2024 to use the funding.

Another project the city had hoped to complete by now was a new public restroom, which Allen said will be a big help for visitors – especially bicyclists during the spring and summer. She said there were difficulties siting the building and finding contractors. The restroom is currently being built off-site. Once a bid is awarded for installation, she said the project should finish quickly.

As the dust settles on 2023’s infrastructure to-do list, Allen said the city is looking forward to further sidewalk installations and improvements to Thomas Creek Park. 

The biggest milestone ahead will be a new City Hall building to replace the current six-decade-old structure. Allen said a tour of City Hall would convince someone of the need for a new facility, as the roof leaks regularly and there are gaps in some walls big enough to let in sunlight. The city council voted in 2019 to pursue a new City Hall, but the pandemic scuttled that plan as construction costs more than doubled.

The council is expected to take up the issue in the coming months and discuss the advantages of repairing the current building versus constructing a new one. Allen said, at a minimum, the current building needs a new roof and other renovations.

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