Tonasket approves bid for upgraded pedestrian crossing

Greg Howard, owner/engineer of Okanogan County Motorized Bicycles, shows the mayor and council  one of his  motorized bikes which he said would be good for a police bike patrol. The bikes cost about $800 with the motor added and can go up to 30 mph.

Greg Howard, owner/engineer of Okanogan County Motorized Bicycles, shows the mayor and council one of his motorized bikes which he said would be good for a police bike patrol. The bikes cost about $800 with the motor added and can go up to 30 mph.

TONASKET – The City of Tonasket’s move to re-bid the pending pedestrian crossing project appears to have paid dividends, based on the response it got through a process it was able to utilize known as a public interest finding.

The council had been taken aback by its original bid for the full project, which exceeded the available funding to put in a solar-powered, manually operated crossing light at the intersection of Whitcomb and Second. It would provide safer access to North Valley Hospital from its parking area across the street.

Project engineers from Varela and Associates recommended the public interest finding process, which upon state Department of Transportation approval allowed the City of Tonasket to break the bid out into separate equipment and installation segments.

The council approved a quote by Traffic Safety Supply for $13,220 for the purchase of the sign itself, contingent on DOT approval, the lowest of three bids.

“Just for the sign itself, it floors me how much of a difference (there was) between going out and getting quotes ourselves,” said Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb, “as opposed to going out and having a third party go out and get a quote for a capital purchase.”

The council discussed whether or not to go ahead with the installation project immediately, but opted to wait until the next council meeting. Washington DOT officials plan to be at that meeting to discuss the project, including how it will mesh with the DOT project that will involve grinding down and repaving Whitcomb, as well as installing new ADA-approved sidewalk ramps.

Plumb said that while he was anxious to get the pedestrian project underway, “We’d rather do it right then do it quick.”

Pool update

While a committee to spearhead the building of a new swimming pool has not yet officially formed, Councilman Scott Olson said he’d made headway in finding a number of volunteers, as well as someone who expressed interest in leading it.

“Joyce Fancher is interested in heading the committee,” Olson said. “The greater Tonasket area needs to be well represented.”

City Clerk Alice Attwood said that she hadn’t received any calls from people volunteering to be on the committee.

“I was approached on Sunday as to why the city isn’t busing kids to Omak (to swim),” said Councilwoman Jean Ramsey.

Mayor Plumb asked if the creation of the committee required council action.

“My understanding is that they are going to try to create a parks / pool district,” Olson said. “That district will then work with the council …

“As far as ideas and limitations we’ll want to be involved in it.”

“The vision we’ve had over time, we need to make sure over time, what are the next steps? Say, they get a taxing district that exists outside the city limits, we would have to vote to join it. And then we would have to deal with the ownership of the pool: does it stay the city’s, does it go to the taxing district?”

Ramsey suggested using tapping into city planner Kurt Danison’s knowledge, while Attwood and Plumb said that city attorney Mick Howe should also be involved to make sure the legalities are adequately addressed.

Olson and Fancher also pointed out that Fancher had both city council and recreation district experience.

“We’ll probably keep this on the agenda at least until the first community meeting they have,” Plumb said. “I think we should welcome Ms Fancher to come in any time to ask and report on whatever she’d like to see.”

Bike demo

Greg Howard, owner/engineer of Okanogan County Motorized Bicycles, presented his product to the council with the thought that Tonasket Police might take an interest in a bicycle patrol.

Howard said that bikes cost about $800 with the motor added and can go up to 30 mph. It is easily started with the bicycle in motion, such as when turning to head uphill.

“My machine makes rather quick work of (Tonasket’s) hills, between the motor itself and the rider pedaling,” Howard said. “I can take Fourth Street from Main Street up to the high school without any effort at all. And I’m not an athlete.”

Plus, he said the Huffy-based frame is quite durable.

“This is the bike you used when your good bike was broken,” Howard said.

“Thanks for choosing Tonasket (to do business in),” Plumb said. “You can be our ‘Einstein of Tonasket.’”

Later in the meeting, Howard’s demonstration brought back discussion the possibility of adopting an ATV/snowmobile ordinance, both to aid in the use of smaller vehicles for law enforcement and to enhance Tonasket’s appeal and access for those in the area for recreational activities. No action was taken.

Other actions taken

Among other actions, the council approved the six-year transportation program with minimal alterations from last year; amended the fee resolution, eliminating duplicate items; surplussed the existing swimming pools and authorized Attwood to sell them to the closest interested municipality for adequate value; approved the latest Varela and Associates bill for the water and sewer project; approved the use of Triangle Park for the North Valley Hospital Foundation benefit garage sale; and approved the consent agenda.

Plumb also read a proclamation for KXLY television personality Mark Peterson, which he was to present to Peterson at Saturday’s Tonasket Truck and Tractor Pulls that Peterson was in town to announce.

The Tonasket City Council next meets Tuesday, July 24, at the Tonasket City Hall.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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