by Richard Uhlhorn
City Council meetings can be interesting, and sometimes very revealing about the council’s, mayor’s and administrator’s mind set. The recent Council meeting on March 12 was one such meeting.
The big question going into the Tuesday, March 12 meeting was how the Council would vote on the acquisition of the Kelly Trust property at the airport. A little background is necessary to set the stage.
On October 23, the Council and members of the Port of Chelan County met to discuss this acquisition. The price is $294,000 and the Port told the Council that it would finance the purchase with the City paying it back over a five year period at 2.5% interest. No action was taken.
On November 6, the Council moved to provide notice to the property owner that the City intended to exercise its Right of First Refusal and make a bona-fide offer, execute all documents necessary. The motion passed with both Councilmembers Erin McCardle and Ray Dobbs voting Nay.
The City Administrator and the City Attorney continued to work with the Port to seek information and develop an Interlocal Agreement. On March 12 a copy of proposed Interlocal agreement with the Port has been attached to the Council’s agenda bill.
Mayor Mike Cooney stated that City Administrator Mike Jackson has been working on the issue non-stop and “has reached an agreement (with the Port) we can all be happy with.”
In the final agreement, the Port will purchase the property outright with a sunset clause to turn the property over to the Chelan Airport no later than January 1, 2035. In the meantime, the Port will clean the property up and make the property into an expanded enhanced storage facility that they will operate, hopefully at a profit.
City Attorney Quentin Batjar
“The will take all the revenue from that,” said City Attorney Quentin Batjar. Also, it the Port decides to get out of the agreement before the sunset clause, the City has the Right of First Refusal. “They are not thinking about getting out,” said Mayor Cooney.
Mayor Mike Cooney
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said that this long term development by the Port is doing what its mission is. “It seems like a good division of labor between Chelan and the Port.”
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth
McCardle stated that there was a private entity that had made an offer on the property and that the Port wanted it for economic development.
“It serves our purposes,” said Jackson. “The basis of the agreement is to give the property back to the Airport. They think they can recover their costs.”
The Council’s major heartache on the purchase was taking money from the City’s General Fund which would, in turn, take away from some other City project on the books.
So, what started out as a City/Port acquisition, has turned into a Port acquisition with a sunset clause that will have the Airport gaining control of the property in 15 years. Not a bad outcome for the Port or the City, if the Port passes its resolution to go forward at its Tuesday, April 19 meeting.
In other business:
With all the talk about the dangers of egress and ingress adjacent to Chelan High School and adjacent intersections, Councilman Ray Dobbs and his grandson, seventh grader Charlie Morgan gave a special presentation on the only exit from South Chelan at Farnham St. and Hwy. 97A.
Councilman Ray Dobbs and his grandson, Charlie Morgan gave a special presentation to the City Council regarding the only outlet from South Chelan and suggested a small round-about be installed to help traffic flow.
Dobbs and his grandson walked the South Chelan neighborhood and ascertained that there were up to 700 to over 1,000 people living there in the 234 residential units counted. “That’s a quarter of the population of Chelan,” said Dobbs.
They both feel that it is a dangerous situation because of the one-way change into Chelan that is now forcing more and more traffic to leave town over the new bridge.
Both feel that the City and State should be looking at installing a small roundabout at the Farnham intersection, “so the people on Farnham have an equal opportunity.”
When asked about an alternative exit, Planning Director Craig Gildroy said that they were looking at secondary access during the Holiday Hills development.
During the Council Comments several items of interest to the community came out.
Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart said that the Arts Council is looking for art work which will be displayed in the Library and then in the park during the Arts in the Park weekend.
Councilman Ray Dobbs mentioned that the City Crews jumped on a water leak in his neighborhood and got it covered quickly. “Nice work you guys.”
Councilman Ty Witt
Councilman Ty Witt said the Century Challenge staging area will be moved to the PUD Park by the High School to alleviate issues at Don Morse Park.
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said the Town Hall meeting on wildfire brought awareness to the community about the need to prepare the 2019 fire season.
Councilman Cervando Robelia said he was organizing an open house for the Hispanic Community on Affordable Housing.
It was also mentioned that the kids would be out cleaning the town in preparation for Earth Day. Mayor Cooney said that 800 cubic yards of material are collected each year for recycling.
Mayor Cooney wanted to dispel a rumor that the only reason he wants to buy the Butte is to develop it. “It will be turned into a conservation easement,” said Cooney. “It will never be developed.” However there is an idea of using 40 acres at the Far East end as a potential affordable housing area.
City Administrator Mike Jackson brought up the subject of potentially having food trucks parked on the old Bumper Boat Pad as an additional revenue source for the city and another attraction for visitors.
“This would not displace the boats,” said Jackson. “I’m trying to see if we can get some takers.” Jackson handed out a Request for a Proposals at the Lakeshore Marina.
The food truck business is a $250 million dollar enterprise in larger Cities. Jackson’s proposal outlined the City’s thoughts on how it would be handled. Food trucks would, if approved by the Council be allowed to operate from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
This proposal started the obvious conversation.
Councilwoman Erin McCardle
McCardle asked about the longstanding businesses in the area. “My concern is the impact this would have on local businesses,” she said.
Jackson said each vendor would have only 30 days to operate. “It is not meant to give them a permanent location.”
Hollingsworth felt that it could have an impact on the Lakeview Drive-in. “They only have three or four months to make money,” said Hollingsworth. “I do get the appeal of it,” he added.
Former council member and candidate for Mayor, Stan Morse added that the Lakeside area has no real option for food. Why not find a place there.
Not sure this idea was dead on arrival or not, but it is an interesting concept.
The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, March 26. The public is encouraged to attend.