Tonasket Planner suggests forming ‘Friends of the Pool’

Councilwoman Julianna Griffin, stepping down because she is moving to the Oroville area, was presented with a plaque honoring her service to the city by Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb. Photo by Brent Baker

Councilwoman Julianna Griffin, stepping down because she is moving to the Oroville area, was presented with a plaque honoring her service to the city by Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb. Photo by Brent Baker

City Planner Kurt Danison of Highlands Associates reported on a variety of topics at the Wednesday, June 13 Tonasket Council meeting, including the formation of a Friends of the Pool group to focus on a new or renovated city pool.
Danison said he met the previous day with a group of individuals “very interested in getting the pool done.” He said there was a clear desire to see some action and recommended the formation of a Friends of Pool group.
“I’m suggesting we reorganize a pool committee and decide what direction we’re going to go,” Danison said. “In terms of new pool, renovate the existing pool — things that we started discussing a few years ago.
“Two things: one is to come to the conclusion of what we’re going to build and where we’re going to build it, so we can begin to see what it will cost us. The other is to actually encourage and support a local ‘Friends of the Pool’ group or whatever to help with the fundraising. The goal in my mind is to apply in 2014 for money to build a new pool, or renovate the existing one. So we have a little less than two years to come up with money for the new pool.”
Danison suggested putting together an endowment of some sort, managed privately, to supplement the money the city is setting aside in its budget for that purpose.
“We need to determine our next step and get some professional people on board to help make the decision about new or existing and the appropriate scale of the project.”
Danison said the Tonasket “Pretty Committee” has continued to meet, while he has stayed engaged with the group to add a long-term perspective to their plans and ideas.
“They’re working on some really neat things,” Danison said. “I tend to look at the longer term. And what I’ve heard is the desire for new sidewalks, those sorts of things. You can’t just go down to Lee Franks and buy those.
“We had hoped that since the DOT was coming in next year (to grind down the street) that we could piggyback in with some funding … but by the time it’s available it would be too late for that project.”
Danison said there is hope that within two years, if funding is applied for, the vision and plan will be clearer in terms of lighting, sidewalks, safe routes to the school from downtown, and other improvements that could be made.
“I think folks walked away with a greater appreciation for what it takes to actually get to the point where you could apply for this money and get it,” Danison said. “You don’t just send them a letter and have them send you a check. There’s a process you have to go to to get there.”
Danison also reported on the county commissioners’ continued work on zoning issues in the areas surrounding local airports.

Recycling center

Peter James of Green Okanogan was on hand to discuss the present and future state of the organization’s proposed recycling center.
“It’s taking longer than we’d like,” James said. “But we’re in it for the long haul.”
James said he and George Hill were putting together a legal agreement that would allow Green Okanogan to build on the site, which is owned by Hill. Though he eventually plans to put up a 60×70 foot drive-through building with a roof that can support solar panels, a 15-foot high by 100-foot long retaining wall will need to go in first. James said much of the material currently visible from the street will eventually be relocated to a lower level of the property.
Councilwoman Jill Vugteveen said she’d received complaints about the appearance of the site, with recyclable materials currently stacked there visible from the street.
“I agree,” James said. “I live across the street (from the recycling site). If people want to talk to me about it, I’m not going to be confrontational or defensive about it. I’m doing what I can to bring an important part of clean-up to Tonasket, which is recycling.

Alcohol at youth center?

The council weighed weather or not to ban alcohol at Tonasket Youth Center. Alcohol is currently permitted if private groups hosting events there obtain a banquet permit before reserving the facility with the city.
City Clerk Alice Attwood requested that the council consider banning alcohol at the youth center, largely due to increased litter that is not cleaned up after events where alcohol is served.
“I can certainly see that no being in keeping with a youth center,” Councilwoman Griffin said.
“Could we consider a one-year moratorium and have council reconsider it?” Plumb asked. “If all of a sudden everything drops out, no one rents it any more, we make no money, could we at least consider a moratorium?”
“Any time there is alcohol, we have to have the police go up there and check it out,” Attwood said. “It’s an added worry.”
Burks said that banning alcohol in the youth center during those events wouldn’t solve the littering or inappropriate activity issues that occur outside during events.
“In our experience, and I’m not saying this to allow alcohol, but by not allowing it you create more cans outside,” Burks said. “If they’re not allowed alcohol, they bring it to their car, they get out in the parking lot and we still get called up there because people are drinking in public.
“We’ve seen cases of beer in cars, and bottles. And to be fair it happens at the CCC and the Senior Center, too.”
Vugteveen said she thought eliminating alcohol altogether was premature.
I think that maybe we we should … up the deposit, and that way they don’t get it back (if they don’t clean up outside),” she said. “And just say to them, outside counts, too. Based on what (Burks) has said (denying a permit) wouldn’t curtail the alcohol, it would just move it somewhere else.”
While Councilmembers Ramsey and Hines agreed that was something to consider, outgoing Councilmember Griffin said she felt Councilmember Scott Olson, who missed the meeting with a previous engagement, should be included in further discussion.
“The fee schedule for next year isn’t done yet anyway,” Plumb said. “So we can table this and bring it back.”

Council actions

The council approved a repair of the street lights along Highway 20 below the school that will address issues with all the lights — not just the ones currently not working — for $1,728. The cost will cover PUD installation as well as putting the entire group of lights on a common sensor.
Attwood also shared that the public interest finding for the pedestrian crossing project across Whitcomb Avenue from the hospital parking lot was approved. The council approved the purchase of the beacon system directly from the manufacturer at the best cost possible and will put the installation out for bid.
Also approved were the bond council services engagement letter with Foster Pepper, PLL
C, and setting the date for a public hearing on the six year transportation plan for July 10.
Plumb also presented Griffin with a plaque in honor of her service to the council at the conclusion of the meeting, which was her last as she is moving to the Oroville area.
“We are regretfully losing one of our friends,” Plumb said. “In tribute to Councilmember Griffin for her service and contribution and dedication to the City of Tonasket, we appreciated everything.”
“It’s been an incredible privilege,” Griffin said. “I’ve loved being involved. I’m sorry to go.”
The Tonasket City Council next meets Tuesday, June 26, 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 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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