In 2013, Foster Pepper served as bond counsel to the Ocosta School District for the issuance of voter-approved bonds to finance renovation of an elementary school in Westport, Washington. The Superintendent of the District had a very unique idea for a portion of the renovation – a vertical tsunami refuge for students, staff and community to be situated on top of one of the newly constructed elementary school buildings. Working with the Superintendent and the District’s Board of Directors, Foster Pepper helped draft the bond ballot proposition to convey this unique feature to voters. Ultimately, the voters approved the bond ballot proposition and the District issued the bonds.
More recently, National Geographic, a magazine focusing on geography, history and world culture since 1888, featured the Ocosta School District bond project in their February issue. The magazine reported:
“Up to 5,000 people are in Westport, Washington, on a summer day. About a fifth could be too close to the coast and too far from high ground to escape on foot from a tsunami, which experts say would follow an earthquake there by 25 minutes. The [school district] is forging a safe haven, building on state plans. Last April it approved a bond for the first vertical tsunami refuge in the U.S.—on top of a school and able to withstand a 9.2 magnitude earthquake.”
Jim McNeill, Chair of Foster Pepper’s Municipal Government, Public Finance, and Education and Schools practices, said, “The great benefit to what we do as bond lawyers is the opportunity to work on creative and unique projects to help communities. It is not often that one of our school district finance projects receives national attention. But when it does, it’s pretty cool.”