The Port of Port Angeles’ 1010 Building, near William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, currently houses the county’s Social Distancing Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The Port of Port Angeles’ 1010 Building, near William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, currently houses the county’s Social Distancing Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Social Distancing Center lease extended

Action taken before Thursday expiration date

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have extended a lease with the Port of Port Angeles to maintain the COVID-19 Social Distancing Center though May 31.

The three commissioners Tuesday also renewed agreements with Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic, Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) and Norpoint Tactical for continued medical services, operations and security at the temporary shelter in Port Angeles.

Those agreements and the lease with the port were set to expire Thursday.

“All of these agreements are essentially extensions of what Clallam County does already have with each of the vendors,” Deputy Health and Human Services Director Kevin LoPiccolo told commissioners Monday.

The COVID-19 Social Distancing Center has an isolation wing for people with viral symptoms and space for healthy homeless individuals who cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clallam County opened the facility in April. The county’s rent for the 1010 Building will continue to be $15,000 per month.

Clallam County will pay OlyCAP up to $262,522 to staff the facility 24 hours per day though the end of May, according to the new agreement.

Norpoint Tactical will receive up to $99,736 to provide security at the facility 12 hours per day though May 31.

Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic will provide medical services and case management at a monthly rate of up to $12,212.

“These four items are examples of public health expenses that local governments like Clallam County government are incurring unless and until there is an additional (COVID-19) relief bill passed by Congress,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said in a virtual meeting Tuesday.

“I don’t know how long we will need to utilize general fund dollars to continue supporting the work that needs to be done here, whether that ends up being the entirety of the first half of the year or maybe just a month or two, if we’re lucky.”

Clallam County exhausted the $433,368 grant it received from the state Department of Commerce to operate the Social Distancing Center early in the pandemic.

The county also received $1.5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for Health and Human Services projects like the shelter in 2020.

Absent a new round of CARES Act funding, Clallam County will tap into its general fund for day-to-day operations to maintain the Social Distancing Center in 2021.

“That’s obviously a significant commitment,” Ozias said Tuesday.

“Not every county is likely in a position to be able to do that. We will be making sacrifices in other places in order to do this.

“I appreciate the other commissioners being supportive of this important work, given the unidentified source of funding as we move forward,” Ozias added.

The shelter averaged 50 to 60 guests over the fall and had 50 on site Saturday, LoPiccolo said in a Monday email.

The Social Distancing Center will close when Serenity House of Clallam County completes an 80-bed expansion of its existing shelter this spring.

A Port Angeles hearings examiner is considering a conditional use permit application for the Serenity House expansion.

“Currently they’re in process of design and engineering and some stormwater issues that are associated with the site,” LoPiccolo said Monday.

“Hopefully we can have plans drawn up by mid-January.

“Our hope is that Serenity House will have their addition up by the end of May,” he added.

LoPiccolo reported that a plumbing issue at the Social Distancing Center had been resolved Monday.

Angeles Plumbing identified and repaired a disconnected pipe that was causing water to back up in the showers, LoPiccolo said.

“So far, we’ve been blessed for the past three weeks with no plumbing issues,” LoPiccolo said.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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