Town council debates development priorities


On Monday the Cathlamet Town Council had a contentious discussion about the overall vision for the town’s development, including which projects to prioritize. However, after the council agreed at the last meeting to individually list their priorities, only two did so. Council Member Cecelia Raglin was also not in attendance.

The council’s decision to undergo certain development will ultimately dictate the work of the town’s employees including Clerk-Treasurer Sarah Clark and Public Works Superintendent David McNally.

Council Member Bill Wainwright presented the idea of hiring a project manager who could oversee town development to keep momentum going even as council members turnover. Even the suggestion of a project manager sparked debate from council members who cited past failures to find proficient people to perform the job or the excessive cost to the town. Nonetheless council members were in agreement that something needed to be done.

Wainwright suggested the rest of the council present their list of priorities for the town in order to move the conversation forward. Council member Laurel Waller contended that creating a list would not be productive without prior action.

“We have not done an exercise that looks at everything the town is responsible for or come up with what ‘priority’ even means and how we would rank priority to eventually get down to the projects,” Waller explained.

Wainwright rebutted: “I think what your expectations are and what I'm driving at are two separate things... Let's all get together and say ‘what are things that are fundamental to the financial where with all the way to the town and that will enable us to grow?’”

Both council members engaged in a back and forth for several minutes, both ultimately advocating for the growth of the town with different methods. It was suggested that Wainwright and Waller have a coffee meeting to clear up the dissonance between their approaches.

Clark added a last minute agenda item to new business which was the approval of terms and conditions for the American Rescue Plan Act grant funding. The council swiftly passed a motion to approve the contract in order to expedite the receipt of recovery funds. Town Attorney Fred Johnson assured the council that nothing was surprising about the contract and agreed with the council’s decision.

According to the United States Congress, “This bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.”

Clark updated the council on several miscellaneous items including a discussion with Wahkiakum County Commissioner Lee Tischer about a speed limit reduction on Columbia St., the formation of a committee by the county to assist with funding the town’s pool, the installation of new tennis court nets at Erickson Park, and the progress of the town dock including the completion of necessary applications to begin its replacement. Finally, Johnson recommended that the council continue hosting council meetings remotely until July citing regulations related to covid-19.

Clark also gave an update on a land use inquiry at the old nursing home on Second Street. Since the land owner could not provide enough parking to have apartment units, they will find alternative uses.

“It'll still be some form of a multi unit. He mentioned possibly doing an inpatient facility or a foster care center. Nothing is finalized. So as of right now, he doesn't have a time frame. And he doesn't know exactly which way he's going. Just not apartments,” Clark said.


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