Council: Get rid of emotion; consider a business deal
February 15, 2018
To The Eagle:
I reviewed the report on the town’s meeting regarding sewer rates. The council is deciding whether to charge customers a flat fee or charge on the amount of usage. We all know the fair way is to charge on usage. A single person on a fixed income in a two bedroom mobile home, who conserves their water to keep their bill down, should not pay the same as a family in a three bedroom home with three kids – where there is numerous loads of laundry, daily dishwashing, baths/showers, and watering of the lawn, etc.
The town is faced with a massive debt caused by 20 years of not reserving money in order to build a new sewage plant. The town is in a pickle. The town wants growth, like more hookups to city utilities to help offset the ongoing cost of the new system, but how do we attract new people and also help those outside the city to hook up to the system?
I gave the town an easy solution to the problem in the past. I have spoken at their meetings and even given them a draft plan. But for some reason it falls on deaf ears. With this letter, I hope that the citizens of Cathlamet will urge their council members to make a business decision, not an emotional decision.
I recommend the town sell the old sewer lagoons to Port District 1, which not only has the grant resources and capital to develop the proposed park but also the staff to maintain the park, bathrooms, and parking. The port’s primary mission is economic development, and developing the park will not only improve the quality of life for our citizens, but it will attract more people to the area. The port has shown they want to provide more than yacht clubs, etc .; they are now going to host the farmers market.
The town can take the money from the sale of the lagoons to retire some debt and hire a contractor/consultant to develop a plan to place sewer lines and hook ups to all of the houses surrounding the golf course. The people around the golf course know their septic systems are failing; some have even purchased a second lot to expand their drain fields. They would be able to hook up to the city utility and then sell those lots for people to build on. Everyone wins.
The town struggles to maintain the parks it has now and is shorthanded when it comes to maintenance of their existing assets. The waterfront has sat unusable for years, and if the town does not sell it, the waterfront will just be a bunch of brush and ponds of sand for years to come. As a part owner of a business in the port, I want to see the port expand, to bring in more economic development, and help our community, and our businesses, to grow. I am sure the port will respect the park plan that the town has developed, as well as make sure the waterfront is available for locals and visitors to enjoy. It’s a perfect place for community, car shows, farmers markets, concerts, and just enjoying the outdoors.
Please talk to your council person and ask them to sell an asset in order to aid the town financially.
[Editor's note: Erickson served as one of the executive directors of the former Lower Columbia Economic Development Council and is a partner in the Rivermile 38 Brewery.]