Tribal Government & News
General Council briefed on construction projects
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals staff writer
Tribal Engineering and Planning Manager Ryan Webb briefed the membership on various capital improvement projects on and off the Tribal campus during a Sunday, May 7, General Council hybrid meeting held via the Zoom video conferencing application and in Tribal Council chambers.
“This is a great opportunity to talk about what we’ve done and what we have coming up, and celebrate all the great work we’ve been able to do,” Webb said.
He provided the Tribal audience with an update of Creekside Elder housing, the Tribal homeownership development, men’s transitional housing, domestic violence shelters, Wind River Apartments, wastewater treatment plant expansion, Warriors of Hope program expansion, language education building, health care and vaccination clinic, Grand Ronde Fire Station upgrade, child development center, Tumwata Village, resident recreation center and electric vehicle charging stations.
“I think everyone would agree it’s been a busy year with a lot of construction work happening and some great buildings being constructed to house different services of the Tribe,” Webb said.
Creekside Elder Housing: The 24-unit project located at Hebo and Grand Ronde roads includes 12 two-bedroom, one-bath duplexes. Each unit is 1,120 square feet, with 18 market rate units and six subsidized units. Each one will have solar panels plus backup battery storage. The $7.19 million project is funded with 80 percent Tribal dollars and 20 percent federal grant funds. The first unit will be ready for occupancy later this month and the final unit by the end of September.
Homeownership development phase one: The project is located at McPherson Road east of Grand Ronde Road, with all 20 homes projected to be ready for occupancy by early 2024. Home sizes range from two- to four-bedroom, 1,200- to 2,000-square-feet on 10,000-square-foot lots. Each unit is solar-ready. The project is funded by federal sources and Spirit Mountain Casino revenues.
Men’s transitional housing: The site work is complete on the Oregon Housing Authority grant-funded project on Ackerson and Grand Ronde roads, and includes utilities and parking for three manufactured homes. Two have been delivered and installed, and residents are starting to move in.
Domestic violence shelters: The Oregon Housing Authority grant-funded project includes utilities and parking for three manufactured homes. Two of these will serve as a shelter and the third will house a staff office.
Wind River Apartments, phase three: There will be up to 60 units within 15 apartment buildings located adjacent to the Tribe’s Housing Department offices at 28450 Tyee Road. Five units are contingent on federal grant funding. The apartments will contain a mix of one- and two-bedroom solar ready units. There are plans to explore adding solar panels with Energy Trust of Oregon. Design will begin later in the month and construction is expected to start in 2024.
Wastewater treatment plant capacity expansion: The $497,000 project will include software and hardware upgrades, increasing the capacity from 72,000 gallons per day to 125,000. The software upgrades will allow employees to monitor potential problems from home rather than having to drive into Grand Ronde to troubleshoot.
Warriors of Hope program expansion: The $1.6 million, 2,100-square-foot addition to the current Community Center is expected to be complete later this month. The funding breakdown is 50 percent Tribal and 50 percent federal. “It’s a small-sized project that comes with a lot of meaning to it and the services it provides,” Webb said. Warriors of Hope is the Tribe’s program for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Language Education building: The $3.95 million, 6,600-square-foot building will have six classrooms and office space. It is located behind the existing Education Department complex on the Tribal campus. It is paid for through a combination of Tribal, federal and other funding, with an expected completion date of August.
Health care and vaccination clinic: Located adjacent to the current Health & Wellness Clinic, the new 10,000-square-foot building broke ground in March with an expected completion date of November. The $7 million project is primarily grant funded.
Grand Ronde Fire Station expansion: This $8 million project is funded through American Rescue Plan Act funds and will include a 20,000-square-foot expansion with office space, classroom, living quarters and four bays for fire equipment and engines. Design will be complete in October with construction expected to start in November.
Child development center: The 25,000-square-foot building will include 12 classrooms, a new kitchen, outdoor play areas and support areas, and will be located adjacent to the existing Tribal gym. The project will be paid with federal, Tribal and grant funds with a yet-to-be-determined construction cost. Construction is tentatively slated to begin in September and will take at least a year.
Resident and recreation center: The new 20,000-square-foot building will be located at the Smith property across from Tribal Housing Department offices with a design cost of $660,000 and construction costs undetermined. “We will be putting a heavy amount of community input on this project,” Webb said. “We need as much input as possible.” The project is funded with Indian Health Plan funds.
Electric vehicle charging stations: All buildings on campus will have electric vehicle chargers added in the future, with all new buildings constructed as EV charging ready. Webb is also in the process of developing a charging policy. “We know this need is coming and we need the chargers as soon as possible,” he said.
Tumwata Village: Located at the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site in Oregon City, much of the work this year has been focused on environmental cleanup efforts. The project was awarded an $800,000 Brownfield grant and $2 million in congressional funding. Thus far, 24 structures have been removed and road construction improvements are expected to begin in 2024.
Public Works Coordinator John Mercier gave a brief update on the Tribe’s transportation planning with a focus on road construction.
Grand Ronde Road work, from highways 18 to 22, will begin in June and is expected to wrap up by the end of September. However, the lengthy repair is also expected to cause traffic delays during this time.
“We will be completely replacing the pavement section so it’s going to be a big project,” Mercier said.
Added Webb, “We want to make sure the fix is a permanent one and that’s why it will be a full depth repair that creates a thicker pavement section, but with that, it means it takes longer to do … so I want to let people know this summer will be one of potential delays and impacts.”
After the presentation was complete, Webb fielded seven questions and comments from the audience.
“That was a wonderful presentation and I thank you for putting all of the details there,” Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said. “Serving on the first post-Restoration Tribal Council, these were really our dreams and they were only dreams then. Now to see these things are taking place, it’s a wonderful thing.”
In other action, door prize winners were Jack Giffen Jr., Darlene Aaron, Diane Webb, Julie Casner and Brenda Gray, $50 each; and Linda Brandon, Gail Wilkinson and Lorena Rivera, $100 each. Webb donated her winnings to Grand Ronde Royalty fundraising efforts.
The next General Council meeting for only Tribal Council nominations will be held on Sunday, June 25.
The entire meeting can be viewed by visiting the Tribal government’s website at www.grandronde.org and clicking on the Government tab and then Videos.