Tonasket City Council extends school zone to East Fourth Street

TONASKET – To increase safety on the streets surrounding the Tonasket School District, the city council approved Ordinance No. 662 at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

The ordinance adds an additional subsection to Chapter 10.08 of the Tonasket Municipal Code entitled “Speed Limits” stating that:

“There is hereby adopted a school zone on East Fourth Street commencing at the intersection with Antwine Avenue and continuing to the intersection with Joseph Avenue. The speed limit on said section of East Fourth Street shall be twenty miles per hour when children are present.”

The ordinance was passed despite police Chief Robert Burks stating that Fourth Street doesn’t receive a lot of complaints.

“Third Street has been bad for kids going up it to the baseball and soccer fields and Fifth St. has a lot of problems because of kids flying around the corner, going down the hill and then turning fast at the old fire hall to go past the Senior Center,” Burks said. “Studies show that zones with a slower approach work better because it’s easier to slow down. Also, flashing signs are more effective. With regular signs, you can put the hours in which the schools are in session. My concern is, would two kids playing basketball be considered ‘children present’?”

Burks went on to state that the WAC code number 46895350 says that ‘when children present’ means when children are outside, at a school, near a street and not separated by a fence.

Bill Pilkinton, superintendent of the Public Works Department, informed the council that the signs would cost $160.66 for materials only plus tax and freight and that four signs would be needed. The rough estimate for the signs is $200 per sign. Pilkinton added that three signs would be needed for Locust Avenue where the council passed Ordinance No. 663 to lower the speed limit 15 miles per hour.

“I am still in favor of the ordinance,” Councilwoman Joyce Fancher said. “When I go to other cities, there are school zone signs everywhere. Eight hundred dollars is nothing compared to one student being hit once.”

Ordinance No. 663, which amends Section 10.08.010 of the Tonasket Municipal Code states “There is established a speed limit of fifteen miles per hour in the following areas in the town, all of which are designated play areas: Locust Avenue from Fourth Street to Winesap Street.”

After the council passed both of these ordinances, Tami Miller, executive director of Okanogan County Child Development addressed the council about the purchase of the new speed limit signs.

“Understanding your budget issue and understanding our need for them, can it be done if we purchase the signs and the city puts them up?” Miller asked. “So, it would be nearly $500 to ensure the safety of the children and I see it as a justifiable cost.”

The city approved her offer to purchase just the signs including the tax.

Also at the meeting, the council approved Resolution 2009-01, which states “A resolution of the City of Tonasket declaring support and adoption of the Okanogan County All Hazards Mitigation Plan, which includes the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and Terrorism and Civil Unrest Mitigation Plan.”

This resolution is a necessary step in order to get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the event of an emergency.

The city council’s next meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.