By Ann McCreary
To make room for construction of a new civic building, the Twisp Town Council approved closing a portion of Third Avenue next to the building.
The council approved vacating a portion of Third Avenue on Monday (March 27) after receiving an analysis of parking from consultants.
The analysis showed five public parking spaces would be lost on the south side of Third Avenue across from Town Hall if the street were closed to vehicles.
New parking could be created east of the proposed new civic building, according to parking analysis developed by SCJ Alliance.
The parking analysis showed that 13 spaces could be created on the portion of Third Avenue between an alley behind the Civic Building and Lincoln Street, a net gain of eight spaces.
Twisp residents had raised questions about the impacts to traffic flow and parking during a public hearing last month on the proposed vacation of Third Avenue.
Parking could also be maximized in front of the building on Glover Street, and parking spots could be designated along Lincoln Street, consultants said.
Twisp officials are planning to tear down the current Town Hall building, which has numerous structural and functional deficiencies, and construct a larger building on the site.
To accommodate a one-story structure, the building will extend about halfway into Third Avenue. The other half of the street would become a pedestrian mall or plaza, according to preliminary plans.
The new civic center would serve as town administrative offices, police headquarters and as an emergency operations center for the Methow Valley.
The town has received almost $1 million over the past two years in state funds for the civic building project. Twisp officials are hoping to receive an additional allocation in the next state budget. The total project is expected to cost $2.7 million.
At the request of the town, consultants also evaluated the potential impacts on parking if Second Avenue were converted to two-way traffic between Glover Street and Highway 20. That street is currently restricted to one-way traffic eastbound.
The analysis found that reconfiguring parking to accommodate two-way traffic would likely reduce parking from the current 17 spaces to 11 or 12 spaces. The council took no action with regard to Second Avenue.
In other business at Monday’s council meeting, the council heard an update on plans to repair the south taxiway at the Twisp Municipal Airport.
Mike Port, airport manager, said the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has identified the deteriorating asphalt on the taxiway as a safety issue. The project, estimated to cost around $600,000, is expected to be funded through grants from WSDOT, with a 5 percent match from the town.
Fuel tanks located near the taxiway would need to be moved as part of the project, but the state grants will not pay to move the tanks, Port said. He said pilots who keep their planes at the airport have agreed to pay to move the fuel tanks.
The council also awarded a bid to replace aging water main lines under Highway 20 from near Marble Street to Airport Road. The $363,725 contract was awarded to DJB Construction LLC of Wenatchee.
The project, including engineering, will be funded by a $515,400 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A separate project will install sidewalks along that stretch of highway after the water line work is done. Work on the water lines and sidewalks will be completed this year.