Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Latest Relief for Male Home Owners...

The Latest Relief for Male Home Owners

The hottest new home d├ęcor item for the man who has everything? A home urinal.

''This is another way to make men feel pampered, the way the bidet made a woman feel her bathroom was complete,'' says Long Island architect Paul Rice.

Toilet manufacturers are flush with success at this new market. Toto U.S.A. which added a home urinal to its line in 2005 for $975, has gone from selling dozens to hundreds a month in the last year. Villeroy & Boch has introduced eight different home urinal designs in the last four years. “This is found business,” says Tim Schroeder, president of Duravit U.S.A., whose water-free model sells for $895.

Even developers and builders are taking note. The Duravit Utronic comes standard in roughly half of the 260 units of the new Turnberry Ocean Colony towers near Bal Harbour, Fla., where homes ranging in price from $1.4 to $4 million are almost completely sold out.

Source: The New York Times, Suzanne Gannon (01/25/07)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Beautiful Day

The sun is finally back in Ocean Shores. It's 50 degrees outside, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I took these two pictures while out this morning driving on the beach. The first is a bald eagle sitting on the beach and the other is a view of the Olympic Mountains from the beach.


Monday, January 22, 2007

O.S., county talk about sewer, water for N. Beach

By Jordan Kline - Daily World writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007 10:53 AM PST

OCEAN SHORES — The City of Ocean Shores and Grays Harbor County officials are looking for a way to bring sewer service to residents just north of Ocean Shores and to improve the water system in the area.

Talks between the city and county reopened this week. One project would extend the city’s sewer system to Illahee and Oyehut, two unincorporated areas immediately north of the city limits.

The other would bring water from a new, high-quality and potentially high-yield county well to residents from the city limits north to Hogan’s Corner.

The county views the sewer project as essential to developing the North Beach. If the City of Ocean Shores’ can’t arrive at a financing package property owners agree to, it would force the county to build a sewer system strictly for the areas of Illahee and Oyehut, which would cost millions more.

The sewer system extension has been discussed for years, but had been in limbo since 2004, when the Ocean Shores City Council tabled a resolution that would have put construction in motion.

“The issue of parity came up,” said Acting City Manager Rich McEachin at a public meeting held Tuesday at the Lions Club in Ocean Shores, “and nobody could agree on how much people in Illahee and Oyehut should pay for the project.”

The city developed a Local Improvement District. To form the district, a study has to find that property owners see an increase in value at least equaling the additional fees. At that time, the project would have cost $1.4 million — an average of $9,437 per parcel.
But according to McEachin, some councilmen didn’t think that was fair to Ocean Shores residents, who pay rates to the city and pay for treatment projects through a property tax levy. But the city has no taxing authority in the unincorporated areas, so it wanted to charge residents of Illahee and Oyehut 184 percent of what Ocean Shores residents pay for water in order to make up the difference.

“(Residents of Oyehut and Illahee would pay) the same as us, it’ll just be in their monthly fee, not in their property tax. ... But no one could really agree,” McEachin said, and the issue was dropped, despite having the project’s engineering, right-of-ways and the LID assessment completed.

Building freezeAs a result, Oyehut and Illahee residents can’t get building permits thanks to outdated septic systems, many of which are leaking into creeks and wetlands. Development is at a standstill until these areas get sewers.“I can’t get the building permits to renovate my house,” said Oyehut resident Belinda Hayes. “They tell me because I’m on a septic tank, I can’t build unless I buy a brand new tank or we get sewer lines.”

County Commissioner Al Carter told the audience at the public meeting that he’s been working on the project since he took office in 2003, and that the sewer project was one of his priorities.“Infrastructure is the key, and water, sewer, and roads are what drives the economy. It’s imperative that we get these houses hooked up somehow,” he said.

Will to move forward
At a study session with county officials on Wednesday, City Council members said the disagreement on financing is gone.
“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to walk through this process and get it going,” said Councilman Dave Creighton. “We’ve got people at the table now who want to move forward.
Public Works Director Ken Lanfear said he would ask Macaulay and Associates, the firm hired for the original Local Improvement District assessment, to update the cost of the project for 2007 dollars. Carter agreed that the county would then approach residents of the unincorporated area with a straw poll to gauge their interest in the project.

“What I’m hearing from the folks in Oyehut and Illahee is that they want sewer service,” Carter said.Larry Phoenix, a property owner in Oyehut, confirmed Carter’s suspicions. “We are pretty much all in favor of getting sewer lines. We just want to be able to develop our land.”

City Council members said once Oyehut and Illahee residents give their approval, they would foot the bill for the project’s start-up costs.

Water problems
Separate from the sewer project is the county-led plan to tap a new well in Hogan’s Corner to supply water to Ocean Shores, Illahee, Oyehut, Ocean City State Park, the Quinault Resort & Casino and Hogan’s Corner.

“We are looking at developing a new regional water supply in Hogan’s Corner,” said Kevin Varness, director of utilities and development for the county.

“The county has spent about $500,000 on analysis of ground water in the area, we’ve dug four or five wells, we did testing and obtained water rights from the state for 4,000 gallons per minute, and that’s enough to serve several times over what the current development plan is for Ocean Shores to Copalis Beach,” he added.But the county is asking these entities to bear some of the $5 million to $6 million estimated cost of running the 12-inch pipeline.

“It’s very good quality water,” Varness said of the well, located behind the North Beach RV repair shop. “But there’s several miles of pipeline and there’s a large cost there.”

The county is currently working with the Quinault Indian Nation to acquire federal funding for the $2 million first phase of the project, which would connect the well to the casino’s on-site 500,000 gallon reservoir. Under the county’s plan, the state would pay for pipelines to connect the state park, and Ocean Shores would pay for the pipeline connecting the city.

“(The casino has) a reservoir, but it’s never really panned out. They’ve spent a lot of money trying to get water out of their very shallow wells, and they were experiencing some pretty extreme water quantity issues last summer,” Varness said, adding that the federal money is “connected to economic development for tribes and failing water systems on tribal land.”

Varness and Carter said the Quinault Nation was considering signing a contract that would waive its sovereignty rights in order to move the project forward.

Mayor Mike Patrick was suspicious of the contract, saying “As a sovereign nation they can ignore any contract they sign.”Councilman Creighton said the tribe is just as eager to get better and more water. “The Quinaults need us just as much as we need them. I do believe that they’ll stay with a contract,” he said.

Cheaper, better?
Mike Olden, a utilities consultant for the county, said the county would be able to sell water to the City of Ocean Shores at wholesale for between $1 and $2 per cubic foot. Ocean Shores residents currently pay $5.25 per cubic foot when it hits their water meter.

“If we are successful in getting phase one paid for, we’re pretty confident that the price of water will go down,” Varness said.But McEachin said a lot of “unknowns” about the well remain. “We know about our wells, but that well being new, we don’t really know how much it will produce and for how long,” he said.Ocean Shores is expected to approve a $1.4 million water treatment project next week — money that the county says could be used for pipes. “We’re talking to them about not putting money into treatment, but instead looking at buying pipes,” Varness said.

“We still need to go forward with our treatment. Even if we do use Hogan’s Corner water, we still need a backup ... when we can’t supply the demand we need,” McEachin said.The City Council agreed to continue to look into connecting with the new well, but many said they were wary about proceeding without a clear picture of the project’s feasibility.

“At some point in time, this might be a nice addition,” said Councilwoman Terry Veitz, “but I want to know more. I don’t think (the county is) where we need them to be in order to make a decision.”

“I think this is win-win all the way around,” Commissioner Carter said. “It’s just a matter of getting the bugs out.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Condo Complex coming North of the Casino?

From the Daily World in Aberdeen by Jordan Kline - Daily World writer

The Quinault Indian Nation is exploring the possibility of adding 75 to 100 rooms to its Quinault Beach Resort & Casino at Hogan’s Corner and building a new complex of 150 to 200 time-share condominium units on property just south of the resort.

Feasibility studies indicate the projects are solid, according to Bob Southall, CEO of the resort.“Both of these projects are in consideration,” Southall said, “and the project we’re really focusing on is the time-share condos.”

Tribal President Fawn Sharp said, “It’s really exploratory, and we don’t have anything solidified.”

“It’s no secret that we’re moving forward with these new developments, but we’re only in the preliminary phase,” said Rudy Tsukada, CEO of Quinault Enterprises. “But in the next three to six months, there should be a major announcement about several large projects.”“We’re really encouraged,” Southall said. “I wish I could say that we’re breaking ground in May or something like that, but I can’t.”
The resort hotel now features 159 rooms. Southall said that if the project goes forward, the building would be lengthened to accommodate the new rooms.The condominiums would be built on property south of the resort in the area currently used for the RV park. Southall said they would be townhouse-style condos “similar to what you see out at the jetty” in Ocean Shores.

The Quinault Beach Resort at Hogan’s Corner opened in 2000. Southall said the resort would partner with a points-based time-share company like Trendwest, where time-share buyers choose destinations based on the amount of points they accumulate.Both Tsukada and Southall said the resort is doing well, and the demand exists to support expansion.

“Capacity vs. demand becomes an issue for us on the weekends,” Southall said.“We’re sold out every Friday and Saturday night, and in the summer that extends into Wednesday and Thursday.”

“The resort’s very strong right now,” Tsukada said. “We’re getting a lot of local support during the off season, and that certainly helps.”

Acting Ocean Shores City Manager Rich McEachin said the developments would “help the city more than it would hurt us.”“If a large convention comes to town, they currently have to book a lot of rooms in our town in addition to the resort,” McEachin said.With new rooms potentially opening at the resort, “that narrows the field of us getting their overflow,” he said. “But at the same time, any expansion out there will bring new tourists to the area and we reap benefits from that, too.”

Developer Compensates for Damage to Ocean Shores Wetlands

Developer Compensates for Damage to Ocean Shores Wetlands
OCEAN SHORES, Washington, January 8, 2007 (ENS)
Developer Dunes Estates Inc. has agreed to permanently preserve and enhance over 114 acres of wetlands near the upscale city of Ocean Shores as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Water Act violations.

Dunes Estates was charged last year with dredging and filling wetlands adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and Connor Creek without a permit between 1998 and 2001.

The corrective actions contained in the enforcement agreement made public January 4 are intended to compensate for the loss of 1.7 acres of coastal dune wetlands and the excavation of 2.7 acres of wetlands adjacent to Connor Creek, a salmon bearing creek.

The wetlands are just north of Ocean Shores in Grays Harbor County on the central Washington coast. Under the terms of the agreement, Dunes Estates Inc. has agreed to enhance 2.9 acres of wetlands impacted during the excavation of wetlands along Connor Creek, create approximately 3.4 acres of wetlands, and permanently preserve over 114 acres of wetlands and wetland buffers. Another part of the settlement was an $8,000 fine imposed by the EPA last summer.

“Protecting Washington's shrinking wetlands is a top priority for EPA," said Tom Eaton, EPA's Washington State Director in Olympia. "Wetlands provide significant wildlife habitat as well as provide benefits to neighboring property owners. Anyone working in wetlands must obey the law and protect them."

The EPA has been working with Dunes Estates Inc., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Grays Harbor County to assure that the restoration is carried out according to law.

Now famous, the coastal city of Ocean Shores was a cattle ranch until 1960, but it boomed as a celebrity destination after entertainer Pat Boone became a local resident in 1967 as a stockholder in the Ocean Shores Estates Incorporated. The community became well known as a result of the famous Celebrity Golf tournaments hosted by Boone. By 1969 Ocean Shores was declared the "Richest Little City" with an assessed evaluation of $35 million and 900 permanent residents. During the 1980s, the town struggled through the state's economic recession, but by the 1990s the slump was over and construction of homes and businesses has increased.