Future Public Works Operations Campus

Vancouver’s Public Works Operations Campus is a 24/7 hub for a variety of essential City services and for disaster response – from the streets we drive on to the sewer and water we rely on.

The existing Operations Campus is being replaced with a more accessible, sustainable, resilient maintenance and operations facilities and grounds that will serve the Vancouver community for the next 50 years.

The City is committed to being good neighbors throughout the construction and operation of this future Public Works Operations Campus. Among other features, the campus development will include a landscaped buffer and an additional traffic signal at Northeast 88th Street.

Future Campus Location and Annexation Area

Future Public Works Operations Campus annexation map

Anticipated Project Timeline

Fall 2023: Annexation Hearings

Vancouver’s City Council held two meetings to discuss the annexation of the 32.1 acres site along the east side of Northeast 94th Avenue, between Northeast 88th and 91st streets. City Council workshops and meetings are broadcast on www.cvtv.org, CVTV cable channels 23 / HD 323 and on the City’s Facebook page; community members can participate and share comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a new Public Works Operations Campus?

The existing facilities are inadequate to serve the current and long-term population of Vancouver. The current Operations Campus is located south of East Fourth Plain Boulevard on both sides of General Anderson Avenue. The main building there was originally constructed for Clark Public Utilities operations in 1951, and purchased by the city in 1978, back when Vancouver’s population was only 42,000. The city’s population is now estimated at nearly 188,000. Among other concerns, these facilities still have original electrical and plumbing systems, lack ADA-compliant access, and include fuel tanks/fill-up services that are more than 50 years old. 

The current Operations Campus is vulnerable to even a moderate earthquake and the primary facility does not meet current minimum building code standards. In a seismic event, critical services and employees at this site would be at extreme risk of being unable to provide services and emergency response. 

In addition to being seismically vulnerable, the existing site cannot be efficiently or economically retrofitted at its current location to meet present and future needs.

What is the purpose of the project charter?

On June 28, 2021, Vancouver City Council reviewed and provided feedback on a draft charter to establish and memorialize project expectations for the City’s future Operations Campus. The document defines the visions and values, as well as governance structures, to align with key strategic policies and goals throughout the development of the project. A second project charter review and final approval by City Council occurred in summer 2021. 

What is happening with the project now?

The City recently began what is known as an ‘island annexation’ of the parcels that it had purchased from Clark County – meaning only those parcels owned by the city are being annexed into the city, not those parcels around it. A design team, including architects, engineers, geologists and planners, was selected in late 2022. The project team anticipates reaching the 30% design milestone at the end of 2023.

Where is the future Operations Campus located?

The new Operations Center site is located along the east side of Northeast 94th Avenue, between Northeast 88th and 91st streets, and north of Padden Parkway in Clark County. The 32-acre site is within the City’s Water Service Area and the City’s Urban Growth Area.

When was the new site purchased?

At the end of 2019, Clark County, who owned the property, entered into a purchase and sale agreement with the City of Vancouver. The purchase of the 32-acre site was finalized in 2020.

How does the Public Works Operations Campus serve City of Vancouver utility customers?

Vancouver’s Operations Campus is a 24/7 hub for a variety of essential city services and disaster response — streets, bridges, water, sewer, stormwater, traffic signals, streetlights, grounds maintenance, facilities, utility customer services, vehicle/equipment services, and more. 

How will the future Operations Campus benefit residents?

The new operations campus will allow the City’s Department of Public Works to provide more efficient and effective operations, increase sustainable practices, enhance responsiveness, provide continued operations in the event of a seismic event, and serve as an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event of a major emergency or natural disaster.

Additionally, the new Operations Campus will not only replace/relocate the existing operations center’s staff and facility – but will also consolidate five additional operations sites currently scattered around the city to a single location. Consolidation will decrease costs and increase overall efficiency of services to the public.

Why is the new site located in unincorporated Clark County?

Available properties with appropriate zoning were extremely limited within Vancouver city limits. The new site is well located to equitably serve the residents of Vancouver now and for the next 50 years and is located within Vancouver’s Urban Growth Area.

Will there be traffic impacts in the area where the new Operations Campus is built?

The new Vancouver Operations Campus will comply with Clark County’s already completed existing master plan for the site and is not anticipated to significantly impact traffic or the nearby residential neighborhood. The new site is currently zoned industrial, which includes such things as office/warehouse type facilities. Design and engineering of the new Operations Campus will also include a transportation analysis which will help determine any potential street/traffic needs.

Why not just retrofit the current facilities?

In addition to other benefits the new site brings efficiency to City operations and further revitalizing of the Fourth Plain corridor, the cost of retrofitting the current Public Works Operations facilities is far greater than new construction largely due to extensive work and expense to address seismic and environmental concerns associated with the old buildings and fuel stations. In addition, the current location is in conflict with current zoning, straddles an active street, and could not be rebuilt and maintain continuous service at the same time.

What will happen with the current site?

A separate project will craft a redevelopment strategy for the existing Fourth Plain site that enhances the surrounding community and serves the needs of those who work and live there. The existing center lies in the middle of the dynamic Fourth Plain Business District, one of several areas in Vancouver planned for revitalization.

Is the future Operations Campus being built on a landfill?

No. The future site is located on several parcels adjacent to the former Leichner Landfill. A State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) environmental review study was completed at the site in 2014. No environmental issues were noted in the study that would impact neighboring properties or halt future development. However, the site was placed under a legal requirement, backed by an agreement of Clark County, the City of Vancouver and Ecology, that requires ongoing monitoring of groundwater quality associated with the closed landfill. The City will continue to meet those requirements and conditions, which has made the site less suitable or attractive to private interests looking to purchase and develop land in Clark County.  

Why was this project delayed?

The project was temporarily delayed in 2020 as a fiscally responsible precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide an opportunity for the City to establish a project charter that aligns with the City’s broader strategic initiatives and values, including diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental sustainability.

Will the City seek public feedback and provide information about the design of the future Operations Campus as the project advances?

Yes! Throughout the project, the City will be providing updates and holding public meetings to share plans, answer questions and hear possible concerns. The site design will be determined by specific functions related to operations best practices and needs, as well as technical and environmental standards. This includes goals of minimizing possible impacts to the community. The City is committed to keeping neighbors in the surrounding area and throughout Vancouver informed about progress on this project, including site design and construction plans.

How much will this project cost and how is it funded?

Funding for the new Operations Campus currently is provided by reserves, General Obligation and Utility Revenue bonds, and proceeds from the future sale of a portion of the existing operations site property.

Total estimated cost will be determined with the completion of the design and award of contract. Factors such as inflation and material cost volatility are also likely to impact the project, just as they do with the overall construction industry and economy.