Mayor, 2 councilors to plan Butler St. park
June 6, 2019
The lot on Butler Street was the topic of a Town of Cathlamet special meeting last Friday, as the council tried to move forward with the design of the property.
Brice Wozniak, who had facilitated two recent workshops on the matter, compiled and presented the information he had gleaned from public input to the council. He also drew two possible designs for the council’s perusal.
Both designs included eight parking spots along Butler Street, murals, terraces, and a public Wi-Fi node. One design had more green space and a raised stage, while the other was terraced with stamped concrete.
“There is one thing that you don’t have a drawing for that was mentioned a dozen times,” Council Member David Olson said, “and that is a minimalist lot with a bunch of parking in it, which was scattered around both sessions.”
The subject of parking came up repeatedly during the hour long meeting.
Council Member Jean Burnham brought up concerns she had about parking enforcement.
“There are people who work here in town and they were the most vocal when we bought the lot and what is to stop them from parking there all day?” Burnham said.
Council Member Laurel Waller said she believed that there was public concern about parking, and wondered how to accommodate parking while still providing a greeting place that could be used as flex space.
“I won’t be here,” Council Member Sue Cameron said, “but I think it would be really helpful for you guys to have a workshop on the whole issue of parking because I don’t think this piece of property should solve the entire parking needs of Cathlamet.”
“We have lots of parking. If anybody tells you there is a shortage, it’s a fabrication. Joseph Goebbels said if you told people something long enough they would begin to believe it,” Mayor Dale Jacobson said. “We do not have a shortage of parking.”
“That is as much parking as I would like to see there,” he said later of the two designs drafted by Wozniak, “because we didn’t buy that property to leave it as a parking lot.”
A motion was made to create a council planning group consisting of two council members and the mayor. They will meet to deliberate on the design phase, building on three scenarios, the two designed by Wozniak as well as a minimalist design, with a view toward incorporating costs with design elements.
“I don’t know we need to include what you referred to as the minimalist plan since the mayor already stated that we did not buy the lot to keep it as a free parking lot,” Burnham said.
“I personally would like to keep it,” Waller said, noting that it might help flesh out the final design.
Cameron asked Wozniak to draw a minimalist design, but she had reservations about the matter.
“I have a real issue with turning this over for a public parking lot for employees of the courthouse,” Cameron said. “I don’t think we should use town money to do that.”
“Tell me any investor that bought that property would leave it for public parking for free,” Jacobson said. “Tell me any investor other than the town would do that. Why should we be so stupid?”
The motion passed, with Burnham abstaining.
Olson asked about the status of the Butler Street lot.
“Will it be blocked from use while all this is going on? I don’t understand that,” he said.
“I think if we start to open it up now and bring someone in to put in some water lines or electrical lines or something, and you’ve got people in the courthouse who are there all day long you are not going to be able to do any work on it,” Cameron said.
“The town has the ability to stop access to it at any time,” Olson said. “As a citizen, it seems an irritant. I hope the town and everyone in the town can get along better.”
“Don’t we all,” Cameron said.
“There are necessary irritants and there are unnecessary irritants,” Olson said. “Is the locking of the lot while this is going on, which will probably take through the end of the year, is it a necessary irritant when the town has authority to block the access at any time? If it is a necessary irritant, explain that to me. If it is an unnecessary irritant I urge that the status quo ante be restored and that folks use it until this situation is resolved. Just to reduce the level of irritation in the town.”
The mayor, Burnham, and Cameron were against it and the matter was dropped.
Sara Clark became the acting clerk/treasurer for the town of Cathlamet on Friday. It was the final day for Sylvia Costich, and Olson commended and thanked her for her service. Costich had retired from the clerk/treasurer job several years ago and stepped into it late last fall when Clerk/treasurer Kerrie McNally took a medical leave.