Bonds issued for new fire station, Town Center, in Oregon

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Dec. 7 approved the issuance and sale of low interest bonds that will pay for a new fire station and infrastructure improvements within the proposed Town Center.
        The city is also refinancing a bond, due to low interest rates, that was used to pay for two projects developed over 10 years ago.
        The maximum principal amount of the issuance and sale of bonds for the fire station is $1,750,000. It will pay the costs of constructing, furnishing, equipping and improving a new facility.
        The maximum principal amount of $7 million will pay for the improvement of streets and roadways within the city’s proposed Town Center. It will cover the costs of constructing, reconstructing and improving streets, roadways, sidewalks, waterlines, and related water supply facilities, sanitary sewers and related sanitary facilities, and storm sewers.
        The Town Center is part of a proposed downtown area that contains a mix of retail, residential, an entertainment district, office space and open green space along Navarre Avenue, It is bordered by Isaac Streets Drive, Navarre Avenue, and Coy, Dustin and Pickle roads, an area that totals 167 acres.
        Council approved the issuance of bonds at a maximum principal amount of $750,000 to construct multi-purpose trails connecting to the city’s proposed Town Center, including installing lighting and signage, and acquiring necessary real estate.
        City Administrator Mike Beazley said the city has been talking about moving forward on a new fire station and the Town Center for years.
        “We’ve talked about a new fire station for a number of years. We talked to members of council about this at budget time last year and the year before,” he said. “We don’t think there’s ever going to be a better time to issue municipal bonds. The interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been over my long career. All the advice we’re getting is now is the best time to go long.”
        The last major debt we issued was for the Big Ditch project and the Wheeling Street Widening project about 10 years ago,” said Beazley.
        The city also plans to refinance the debt of those projects as well, he added.
        “The interest rates 10 years ago were low. But they’re low enough now that we come out ahead refinancing that debt between now and when we pay that off. So we’ll have a savings on that,” he said.
        He estimated the city will save between $25,000 and $50,000 annually until the debt is paid off in 12 years.
        The payment on the bonds for the fire station and Town Center will be about $350,000 annually. Each project is estimated to cost $6.5 million.   
        “The roadway infrastructure, which essentially connects Pickle Road to Dustin Road, and ultimately to Navarre – and the bike trails that go with that – will open up land for a Town Center and improve connectivity in Oregon. Our borrowing will be paid for out of our gas tax revenue. The state increased our gas tax revenue last year. We have about $500,000 in new revenue. We will take about $350,000 of that. Using the gas tax revenue is how we intend to pay for this infrastructure for many years. Long term, we will supplant that with revenue from TIF (Tax Increment Financing) should they become available for investment in that corridor.  So we’re going to go down that path. Now is the right time. We’ll have that money available next year. We’ll spend it over a three year period to do this,” said Beazley.
        Building a new fire station has been discussed for “at least seven years,” he added.
        “It’s exciting for us. We can look at the steps to take and decide the right number of fire stations long term. We will assess it, look at how we deploy our resources. At some point, after a couple of years of looking at it, we may decide we need two fire stations,” he said.
        Beazley said he expects construction to start on the fire station and the infrastructure for the Town Center next year.
        “We are still in the final site selection process for the fire station. We have sought proposals in design. We expect to be moving forward with construction on both the roadway infrastructure and the fire station by the fall of 2021.
Strong interest
        Beazley said there has been a lot of interest in developing restaurants and residential housing in the Town Center. But the pandemic is causing investors to retreat until after a vaccine is available to the public, he said.
        “We had an extensive conference call with a group of realtors and developers who are interested in our Town Center,” he said. “I do want to underscore, with the impact of COVID, nobody is signing deals right now. We know we want to be prepared when we get a vaccine, and people will be ready to move. We have strong interest here, but none of the restaurants we’re looking for are ready to sign on the dotted line. They are going to wait to see where things are before they are ready. We do have some opportunities. We have people who want to come in right now. We have to decide as a community if it’s the mix that we’re looking for. We’ll have some discussions about that in the coming weeks. I just want people to know there is strong interest here. The likeliest thing is we’ll go with residential and restaurants first. We have strong interest in both apartments and villas. We have strong interest in Navarre Avenue restaurants. Some will wait a year, certainly after we get through the vaccine period and they understand how retail is going to evolve.”
        There is weak demand right now for office space, he said.
        “We don’t see a strong demand for offices. We had some good conversation with some folks interested in office spaces. Other than medical offices, we think it will be a little while before we build offices. We think hotel projects will take a year or two off as well.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association