Tonasket urges community to get ready for early fire season

 Boy Scouts offer their assistance

TONASKET – Tonasket City Council Member Jill Vugteveen, a USFS employee, reported at the May 25 council meeting it was time to start thinking about fire danger, as “we are about a month and a half ahead of the season. And with the Fourth of July coming up, you have the source to ignite that stuff.”

“That stuff” she referred to includes any “ladder fuels” around properties. Vugteveen suggested people back stuff away from their homes and garages, and cut down any brush.

“Look behind your sheds, behind your fence lines. Look for continuities,” suggested Building Official/Fire Marshall/Permit Administrator Christian Johnson. “Like Jill said, fire season is early.”

Dallin Good spoke up and volunteered help from Boy Scout Troop #27 out of Oroville for anyone needing help clearing brush and stuff from around their homes. To reach the troop, call Steve Quick at (509) 560-3641 or Brent Timm at (509) 429-7690.

Storm Water Plan

Johnson reported four property owners suffering damage due to the run off after the last storm, and said the city has drain problems due to weather changes resulting in an increase in storms. He said he met with City Superintendent Hugh Jensen and the two of them came up with a solution that would cost about $10,000 for the next ten years and involve placing subsurface structures under the roads that would capture water and hold it until the rest of the water passed out and the water held could be released.

Johnson said the project would work within budgetary constraints and show incremental improvements over the next few years, with water coming from uphill taking longer to flow down.

“Every year we would install one, and after about five years we would see improvement,” Johnson said. “It’s a project small enough where when regular things come up, we can leave it and tend to immediate needs without having the whole city torn up.”

Mayor Patrick Plumb said now that the city’s population is over 1,000 there should be funds available from WADOT. Tonasket’s population was 994 at the 2000 census and increased 3.8% to 1,032 at the 2010 census.

“We need to have a storm water facilities plan in place to be eligible for certain funds,” said Plumb. “We have to sit down and really look at numbers, as we have to have matching funds set aside.”

Council Member Scott Olson said any money spent on incremental improvements should count as matching funds for a grant.

Other Business

Johnson reported “exhausting all neighborly directive requirements” to owners of an abandoned building and property on Tonasket Ave South, and has issued a work order to Jensen to abate the building.

“By your next meeting, you should have some bids to do the project, so you should plan on moving some money to pay for about two days worth of work and about $1,000 worth of dump fees,” said Johnson on May 25. The work order includes reducing the fire and health hazard potential by removing the garbage and debris; and securing the building from entry.

A property on West Jonathan Street lacking maintenance and sitting next to an open field with dry grass and a large dead tree was also discussed, with Johnson reporting the owners have been sent three letters a year for the last six years.

According to Johnson, a shoreline permit was expected to be issued the first week in June to begin work on the pedestrian bridge near Legacy Park.

Olson circulated a list of rules submitted by Linda Black regarding the Splash Park for the council to look over, with the anticipation of the park opening sometime in June. Olson said one bid had been received for building a road into the park, and they were trying to get a couple others.

Vugteveen said she would enlist volunteers to paint the park restrooms if there was money available to purchase the paint.

Interim Police Chief Darren Curtis said he was approached by people at Chief Tonasket Park wanting handicapped parking along the stretch of road now closed to parking.

“They said since there was no designated spot, then someone with a handicap placard should be able to park wherever they want; I told them no, but I would bring it up at council,” said Curtis.

Options were discussed, including building a handicapped viewing space for people to sit in their cars to watch the games. Johnson said with a viewing spot only, the city is not responsible for guaranteeing the ground around it as safe for walking. Curtis asked if a spot was designated for handicapped viewing, and the person left their car, would they then be eligible for a ticket? Olson said traffic flow would change with the opening of the Splash Park; and again in a couple years with the opening of the south entrance, so he didn’t see the sense in building a parking spot. It was decided since the park is in flux, handicapped viewers could be offered use of one of the four parking spots available near the restrooms.