Oroville takes additional steps in hopes of state park transfer

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council has approved a motion for immediate annexation should the nearby state park be transferred over to the city and now is making plans to apply for additional funding for start-up costs.

Prior to the state’s announcement that Osoyoos Lake Veterans Memorial State Park was among 13 parks the state Parks and Recreation Department wanted to close to save money, Oroville was in talks with the state to annex the property into the city. At the Jan. 19 meeting of the council they approved Ordinance 777 that would bring the park within the town’s boundaries should the Parks Commission chose to transfer it to the city. Now the city will be applying for some $50,000 in emerging opportunities funds from the county for “start-up” funds conditional on the park’s transfer.

“Chris, Rod and I will travel to Wenatchee so that the state can evaluate our proposal for the park,” said Kathy Jones, Oroville City Clerk.

It looked like the state was going to transfer the park to the city as it was included in Oroville’s Urban Growth Zone, however, the Colville Confederated Tribe, which also is asking to be considered as the park’s recipient, argued that the Urban Growth Zone provision only applied to areas under the state’s Growth Management Act, which Okanogan County is currently not bound by. The state Parks and Recreation Commission rescinded the transfer when the Tribe threatened a lawsuit if the commission did not follow the criteria it had laid out.

Oroville and the Tribe will make their presentations on why each thinks they should receive the park in a parks department meeting in March. The parks and rec commission has indicated it wants to make the decision soon afterwards, according to Jones.

In other business, the council approved a rezone of a section of Block 15 in Oroville. The rezone involved property owned by Councilman Walt Hart III who was not in attendance at the closed record hearing. Hart had requested a rezone from Commercial 1 to Residential 4, which allows multi-family dwellings.

Chris Branch, Oroville’s director of Community and Economic Development entered the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2010 Planning Commission meeting, as well as staff recommendations from him and Oroville Permit Administrator Christian Johnson.

“In my opinion it is within the proximity of the Conservation District with the park and bordered on two sides by residential… I think it is appropriate,” said Councilman Ed Naillon, who made a motion to adopt the Planning Commission’s conclusions and findings of fact. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Neysa Roley and approved.

The council also discussed the interlocal agreement between the cities of Okanogan County regarding the payment of Criminal Justice Fees.

“The agreement was originally designed to protect cities from catastrophic events,” said Clerk Jones. “However the larger cities that used the Criminal Justice System the most benefited far and above what the smaller cities who do not use it as much did. Omak was the beneficiary of $45,000 paid by three other cities, those that don’t house prisoners at the county jail.”

The council approved signing the interlocal agreement that would now more fairly charge the cities based on their actual usage.

There was also a short discussion about the operations of the Visitor Information Center. The Borderlands Historical Society has voted to take over the duties from the Oroville Chamber of Commerce. The operation of the center will be moved from its current location in a city-owned building on Main Street, to the Oroville Depot Museum on Ironwood.

It appears that arrangements to have the information center open during the two weeks of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC will not happen. Visitor Information will be available at city hall during that period, however.