$1.4 million seismic rehab of Nehalem Elementary has companies bidding

Three engineering firms vying for Nehalem Elementary School (NES) $1.4 million seismic rehabilitation project, expected to get underway next summer, recently toured the facility to get a better understanding of the scope of work.

By Ann Powers

Grant FollowX
NKN Business Manager Mark Sybouts explains upgrades needed during a tour of Nehalem Elementary School, formally Union High School, to representatives from companies bidding on the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program retrofit contract. North Coast Citizen photo by Ann Powers

NKN Business Manager Mark Sybouts said out of six companies expressing interest in the contract, those that qualified under the district’s project criteria include Cascade Engineering, Inc. in Hillsboro, Professional Services Industries, Inc. (PSI) based in Portland and ZCS Engineering in Oregon City.

“I was happy with the number of companies that applied to bid for the contract,” Sybouts said. “The bid will be awarded by the end of September.”

In all, Tillamook County school districts have been awarded a combined total of over four million dollars from the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program. Business Oregon, a state economic development agency, oversees the program.

Nestucca Valley School District received $1.5 million and Tillamook School district was awarded nearly $1.2 million for Liberty Elementary School’s gymnasium.

The grant is designated to retrofit older school buildings for a worst-case scenario in the event of a major earthquake. The upgrades must stabilize the structures enough to safely evacuate students, staff and others on campus. NES, formally Union High School, was built in 1925.

The NKN contract for the elementary school includes removing windows to improve the 91-year-old building’s structural competence and adding extra material to strengthen the walls.

“We have lots of school experience,” said Emily Tait, PSI business development associate. “Especially working in downtown Portland where there are lots of ‘vintagey’ buildings that are getting seismic rehab projects.”

Tait added if PSI were chosen for the project, it would be primarily be involved in special inspections and materials testing.

Cascade founding principal, Dimitri Wright, said his firm has seasoned coastal design and seismic retrofitting experience.

“We’re good when working directly with the client to meet their needs,” he said. “I think we would be well suited to work in detail with what best meets their needs for their retrofit.”

“ZCS Engineering has significant prior experience designing seismic rehabilitations to school facilities throughout the state and up and down the coast,” said Zachary A. Stokes, ZCS branch manager. “We have an excellent track record of delivering projects funded through the Seismic rehabilitation Grant Program and are very familiar with the facility after preparing the documentation that led to the award of funds to the District.”

NKN officials said the state did a “drive-by” assessment of all schools statewide and rated them for seismic priority. The districts have two years to use the grant funding from the time it was awarded last July.
“We have two years according to the state,” said NKN Facilities Director Steve Baertlein. “But we want to get started next year, in the summer, when school is out.”

A stipulation for the company awarded the NKN bid is the work must be completed before the fist day of the 2017 school year, he noted.

While the current award will benefit NES, officials said the district plans to lobby grant money for Garibaldi Elementary School during the next round of applications this fall.

The award has a list of eligible and ineligible activities for the funds. Structural improvements, architecture and engineering are eligible. Buildings located in the Tsunami Inundation Zone are not, according to Business Oregon’s website.

Erlebach said NKN Junior/Senior High School doesn’t qualify because of its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean.