Council votes to reopen Butler St. parking lot

Development plan needed in 6 months


November 21, 2019

Members of the Cathlamet Town Council on Monday voted 3-1 to open their Butler Street lot to parking with a six-month deadline to begin improvements to the lot.

The action was one of several initiatives from Council Member David Olson who also suggested changes to the composition of the town planning commission, a formal agenda for meetings, and guidelines for conduct during meetings and public comment.

In other business, Mayor Dale Jacobson announced that Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank is leaving his position at the end of this month. He will become a fiscal officer for Wahkiakum County's Health and Human Services Department.

Olson proposed a resolution calling for the council to "consider and act on a final development and implementation plan" for the Butler Street lot.

A majority of the council voted to buy the lot last year from former Council Member Bernadette Goodroe, who allowed the lot to be used for public parking. Council members led a process to gather public comment for development of the lot into a small park. Citizens opposing the process mounted an unsuccessful recall effort against the mayor and three council members.

The resolution also called for reopening the lot to public parking, and Council Members Ryan Smith and Jean Burnham opposed this proposal.

Smith pointed out that the lot is in poor shape, unsuited for handicapped access, and there is a potential liability from accidents.

The terms of Smith and Burnham are coming to an end, and they'll be replaced by individuals who supported the recall. Olson said the new council very likely will open the lot with users assuming all risks.

Considerable discussion followed, and the council finally passed the resolution with Olson, Laurel Waller and Burnham voting in favor and Smith opposing.

A date to reopen the lot hasn't been set.

In other action:

--The council voted to allow two of the five members of the town planning commission to be Wahkiakum County residents living outside the town limits;

--The council voted to adopt another resolution suggested by Olson to set up a standardized agenda, moving the public period close to the start of the business portion of the meeting. Because of disruptive discussions last year over the controversial Butler Street lot, Mayor Jacobson had moved public comment to near the end of the meetings. The resolution also sets standards for comment and saying disruptive comments won't be allowed.

--Other action included approval of an agreement for ambulance service by Medix and approval of budgetary measures including a 2.l6 percent increase in utility fees and a 1 percent increase in the property tax levy.


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