Back to the drawing board
Council asks architects to refine park plans
November 18, 2021
Cathlamet Town Council Members on Monday reviewed proposed plans for development of two parks and sent their architects back to the drawing board.
First, the council studied concepts for development of Queen Sally Park and decided to seek a geotechnical evaluation of the soils and the water table in the park site before choosing a plan for development.
Second, council members asked for a redesign of the Butler Street park site to increase the number of parking spaces.
The Butler Street lot is undeveloped and is used as a parking lot. Through a variety of meetings over the past two years, the council has chosen to see it developed with an electrical vehicle (EV) charging station, plants and a kiosk for tourists.
Designers Audrey West and Marin Bjork from the West Studio firm presented a proposed plan with nine parking spots, including one meeting requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EV charging station, a kiosk, park bench and other amenities for visitors. Vehicles would enter from Butler Street and exit onto Main Street. There would be angle parking on one side of the lot and parallel parking on the other. The lower end would have shrubs, small trees and other plantings to gather runoff from pavement and clarify runoff water.
With design approval, work could start on the project. Wahkiakum PUD has obtained the necessary transformer and is ready to install a power pole and the transformer.
"We're ready to put out the contract for the EV station," said Town Attorney Fred Johnson.
Council members were unhappy with the parking plan, which would reduce the number of parking spaces from nearly 20 to nine.
"I wanted more parking," said Council Member Laurel Waller. "I don't know what will happen to the people who park there."
Council Members Robert Stowe and Bill Wainwright agreed.
"I don't ever remember discussions where we were going to cut down the number of parking spaces that much," Wainwright said. "It would be tragic if it's just for one EV station that won't benefit the town."
The council approved development conditions in November, 2019, countered Council Member David Olson, and the design concepts were approved in 2020. The town has been awarded a grant to cover a large portion of EV station installation, he said, but the completion deadline is quickly approaching.
West, attending the meeting via Zoom, followed a suggestion from Council Member Laurel Waller to reduce sidewalks and margins along Butler Street and concluded that there could be angle parking on each side of the lot that would increase the number of parking spaces.
She said she would have a redesigned plan ready for the council's Dec. 6 meeting, which would allow work to start in time to meet conditions of the funding grant.
Similarly, when West and Bjork asked council preferences for three different concepts for development of Queen Sally Park, council members weren't ready to act.
Instead, they requested a geotechnical analysis of the park site to see if the soil is stable enough to support the planned walkways and waterworks.
Early in Cathlamet's history, a spring, Queen Sally's Well, provided water for Native Americans and early settlers. The spring has been covered, but water seeps through the soil. A house once stood on the lot; it was demolished when the town acquired the lot.
"That ground is very fragile," said Mayor Jacobson. "I'd hate to see that ground move. If it moves, everything will come down."
West said designers were aware of the seeping water and had planned for that. The three designs included walkways starting on the lower end and winding to a viewing area on the higher corner, water channels and ponds, and interpretive elements.
Council members said the intricacy of the designs surprised them. West said they can be revised, and when pressed by Wainwright, said a rough cost estimate would be around $500,000.
"A suggestion," Wainwright said, "before we spend a lot more time, we may be well suited to have a geotech look at the property to see if the ground is suitable."
The council then voted to have the geotechnical analysis, and West said they'd share design concepts with the geotech to be included in the analysis.