City council puts Industrial Way-Oregon Way, Columbia Heights roads on top of Longview's federal agenda

City council puts Industrial Way-Oregon Way, Columbia Heights roads on top of Longview’s federal agenda

Longview is seeking roughly $50 million in federal funds this year to complete the Industrial Way-Oregon Way project and a slate of other improvements.

The Longview City Council voted to pursue the projects as part of its 2022 federal legislative agenda during its Thursday night meeting. The agenda identifies the city’s priorities as it lobbies for support from local congressional members and applies for competitive grants.

By far the largest project on the agenda is the additional funds for the long-waited IWOW project. Longview plans to seek up to $40 million in federal funds to get the road realignment over the finish line.

A recap of last year’s priorities and the new funds available was given by Joel Rubin, the city’s federal lobbyist from the firm CFM Advocates. Rubin said billions of additional dollars are available through the infrastructure package that passed in 2021, including around 19 new competitive grant programs just within the Department of Transportation.

City projects also could benefit from congressionally directed spending, a modified version of earmarking projects recently made available to lawmakers. Rubin said the process would work well for projects like the Columbia Heights road work, which may not score well in a national grant competition.

“Members who know your district, know your city well, understand the priority of this project and can use this funding source as a way to provide resources to Columbia Heights,” Rubin said.

A last-minute addition to the agenda was a $2.5 million request for the Southwest Washington Regional Airport’s fuel tank project. Councilman Mike Wallin, who represents Longview on the airport operating board, said the funding is needed to cover the unexpected additional cost of the replacement.

Other requests Longview placed on its federal agenda were $3 million for the Clark Creek Master Pump Station, $750,000 to complete the downtown streetscape, $500,000 for culvert replacement along Beech Street and $210,000 for a de-escalation training simulator for the Longview Police Department.

The city can amend the list to add other projects that come up throughout the rest of the year.

During Thursday night’s meeting, the City Council also approved a $120,000 consultant agreement to design a roof replacement for a city reservoir and an $80,000 agreement for an energy audit of city facilities.

Parks use workshop

Before the regular council meeting, councilors attended a two-hour workshop about park use and maintenance. Representatives from the four youth sports clubs that contract with the city to manage fields spoke to the council about the maintenance and safety challenges they face.

The clubs asked the city to consider paying for some of the capital improvements and maintenance work that is currently their sole responsibility. Chrissi Faulk from the Longview Girls Softball Association and Mike Barbee from Longview Babe Ruth also sought steps that would limit “irresponsible users” who damage the fields.

City Manager Kurt Sacha said the workshop was meant as an open discussion among the clubs, the council members and the parks board. No final decisions or actions were made during the workshop.

A proposal to add fencing around the softball fields on Seventh Avenue is expected to come to a council vote in April.