Council okays pacts for longboards, net pen moorage
The Cathlamet Town Council gave approval for use of town streets for the Cathlamet Downhill Corral Longboard Festival and gave continued approval for use of the town dock to more net pens for raising juvenile salmon when it met Monday.
JP Rowan, coordinator of the three-day festival was present to answer questions and go over last minute concerns. He, Council Member Andy Lea and town attorney Heidi Heywood have been working on arrangements and the conditional use permit for the event.
Heywood said all that remained was slight wording changes in conditions to satisfy the town's insurance risk manager. The council voted to authorize final approval subject to Heywood's review and approval.
Rowan said he is working hard to improve the festival, now in its seventh year, and address problems that occurred last year. He has approached residents to talk about their concerns, and he'll be in Cathlamet later this week to begin notifying residents and businesses of the festival.
Crews will begin constructing ramps and installing fencing along the courses on Thursday, August 7. An exhibition course and event is planned for Spring Street. On Friday, slalom and slopestyle events will take place on 3rd Street between Chester Street and the Elochoman Slough Marina. On Saturday, Spring and Columbia streets will host the action, and on Sunday, South Third, Spring, Columbia, Main, Broadway and Commercial streets form the course for the featured downhill race.
Streets that are closed for the races will be open to traffic between 8 and 9 p.m. each night.
Rowan had heard concerns that workers dropped screws used to build ramps on the street last year and they had caused some flat tires; he said the crews wouldn't let that happen this year.
The council also renewed its agreement with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow the department to moor net pens for raising juvenile chinook salmon at the town dock at the foot of Broadway Street from October through April.
The department is raising and releasing the salmon hoping that they'll return as adults in 3-4 years and provide harvest opportunity for gillnetters.
The states of Oregon and Washington have embarked on a program to move gillnetters off the main channel of the Columbia, and the Cathlamet Channel could be considered a side channel where gillnetters could fish.
Mayor Dale Jacobson reminded the council that when the town approved of the agreement last winter, a group of commercial fishermen came to a meeting and spoke against the pens and the action of the two states. At a subsequent meeting, other fishermen came and spoke in favor of the project as a means of maintaining a harvest opportunity for gillnetters.
"I don't want to be in the middle again," Jacobson said.
Council Member David Goodroe recalled that Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Guy Norman had explained that the program needed to take place at least three years to show if it would be effective.
"I advocate that we do this three or four years to see if it works," Goodroe said. "If we don't do it and 3,000 fish come back, we'll be kicking ourselves."
Council Member Hannah Booth Watts recalled that Council Member Wally Wright, who was absent from Tuesday's meeting, had opposed the location of the net pens because they would block the town dock from use by cruising vessels such as the tall ship Lady Washington. She said he had contacted the owners of the Lady Washington and learned that the vessel would be in California until late April when it would sail north to bookings in Puget Sound, so it would not be needing the dock.
Council members voted to renew the interlocal agreement with Fish and Wildlife on the same terms of last season, which included moorage of 12 pens and payment of $2,640 to the town.
In other business, the council and mayor agreed to study and evaluate water rates sometime next winter.
The council had received a letter from the owner of a small apartment house who pointed out that his sewer bill, for three apartments with one toilet each, is charged three times the rate for a single family residence with three toilets.
"This isn't fair," he wrote. "Why must I pay a higher rate than nearly everyone else in town?"
Council members recalled that the town has gone through a multi-year program to raise sewer rates gradually to levels that would sustain program operation.
They suggested sewer rates could be tied to water consumption, and that might be a fair way to assess the rates. As water rates now stand, customers who don't exceed the cubic feet of water included in basic fee are subsidizing customers whose usage exceeds the amount included in the basic rate, council members said.
Jacobson said he wanted to hold a workshop so that all classes of customers could understand and comment on possible rate changes; he suggested that workshop be in February.