Mayor urges council to build new town hall


November 23, 2023

There was a lot to unpack at the nearly four hour Town of Cathlamet meeting on Monday including a preliminary discussion about a possible remediation of the existing town hall after an inspection found mold and a variety of problems in their current home.

“My own view is that it would be an improvident use of town funds to try and rehabilitate that existing sick, toxic building,” Mayor David Olson said. “I think a better choice is to look at a new structure and not put good money after bad on an existing toxic structure.”

It was his personal view, he acknowledged, but the town council’s decision to make. He added that he had already spoken to an architect about the matter and had gotten advice about modular structures.

“The town would be better served with a new building and not try to remediate a toxic building that has had many problems over the years,” he reiterated.

Engineers from Gray and Osborne estimate it would be a minimum $300,000 to $600,000 to fix the existing structure, and to make wanted improvements, council members learned. Town Clerk Sarah Clark said that did not include the work that would need to be done to contend with the mold found in the recent inspection.

It did include repairs to the foundation, siding, locating leaks in the roof and in plumbing, replacing insulation, HVAC, electrical improvements and more.

Councilmember Robert Stowe asked how much would it cost to purchase a new modular building, including installation.

Clark said she did not have updated costs on something like that, but pointed to the City of Nehalem, which paid $560,000 in 2013 to have their city hall built.

Even if they moved town hall, she suggested, public works would need a home. She believed they would have to do something with that building.

“Even if we’re not going to keep it as town hall, we still have to refurbish it?” Stowe asked.

“At least remove the mold for them,” Clark said.

Stowe said he would need answers to a lot more questions before he felt comfortable discussing the matter any more.

Council member Kermit Chamberlin brought up his own concern, which was a proposed addition of council chambers. He suggested a plan more suited to the town’s needs and budget.

“We’ve got a huge space we are proposing to include in this that would be used seldom,” he said. “Cathlamet has a preponderance of public spaces and I wonder at the wisdom of the town spending money on additional meeting space when it already exists.”

The mayor said the proposed council chamber would also act as a multipurpose room, and referred to their current meeting space as a borrowed fire training room.

“If you want to continue to use a borrowed fire training room as your council chamber, the council is entitled to,” he said.

Council member Joe Baker wondered where the money would come from to pay for the project, and Olson admitted that had not been determined.

“We should pursue it, and all different levels of it, and what it’s going to cost,” Baker said. “If we’re going to have to ask tax payers for it, we’re going to have to do it pretty soon.”

Council member Jeanne Hendrickson agreed with Chamberlin and Stowe.

“We need a lot more information,” she said. “We’re going too big for our britches.”


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