Any of three solutions is now estimated to cost $34 million

LYNDEN ­— Each City Council committee will get a chance to hear the latest projections on engineering and costs related to the elusive Pepin Creek project, and those options will also be sent to state agencies to review. 

The council’s Public Works Committee had its turn on the topic on Sept. 11, and Community Development will do so at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the second-floor large conference room of City Hall.

“This is getting really big really fast,” said Public Works chair Gary Bode, in summary of what is now estimated at least a $34 million drainage and rechanneling project on Lynden’s northwest side — no matter which go-forward option is chosen.

It’s all still part of the decision-making process, said City Administrator Mike Martin after Monday’s council meeting.

And one objective of the process is “to have a mechanism for figuring out how much each property has to pay” to make the land west of Benson Road suitable for about 1,700 dwellings to be built.  

But the range of what can be done and at what cost seems to be narrowing down — to four options, in fact, from engineers, reported Bode from his committee meeting of last week.

Two of those options entail a pipe of some sort as the flood event overflow valve from north of Main Street into the Fishtrap and Pepin creeks downstream, while one option involves a swale, elaborated Martin. And the fourth option is to do nothing.

The city has been trying for years to see if the 460-acre Pepin Creek area, with a created central new drainage channel, can be the next new residential growth direction for Lynden. The land is in the city’s designated Urban Growth Area, but it is generally level and historically poor-draining.

Martin said sending the city’s options to state agencies can elicit their input of any “fatal flaw” or a preferred choice while the city continues to do its evaluation.

Bode said some big decisions are coming soon to the council: “What do you do?” If the front-end added cost of a building lot is $100,000, “it’s the end of affordable housing in Lynden — why spend the money?” he said. There must be a serious discussion of costs versus benefits, “or where we go with housing.”

And the discussion now does not include more routine aspects such as streets and normal stormwater drainage, he added.

In other action:

  • After receiving just one bid — of $348,425 from Partner Industrial of Houston, Texas — to recoat the roof of the city’s 3-million-gallon steel water reservoir, the council voted to reject it and start over on the process in early 2020.
  • Councilor Jerry Kuiken reported that the city has received a clean audit from the state for good financial processes and reporting for another year. Finance Director Anthony (Burrows) was thanked, but he said his staff also deserves credit.
  • The Whatcom Family YMCA lease of a city-owned building was modified to reflect the $50,000 share that the Y organization put  into this summer’s pool resurfacing.
  • Public Works Director Steven Banham said the Line Road shoulder asphalt treatment to create safer walkway to Lynden Middle School will not happen in September, held up by a 30-day hydrology review of the project.
  • At the microphone, Lynden-area conservative activist Cynthia Ripke-Kutsagoitz criticized the city and the Lynden Tribune for not doing enough to memorialize Sept. 11 Patriots Day this year.