by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan restaurants received a gift from Mayor Bob Goedde and the City Council at the Council meeting on Tuesday evening when City Attorney Quentin Batjer extended Mayor Goedde’s Emergency Executive Order for the Pandemic.
Batjer stated that the City was waiving certain zoning requirements for outdoor seating that expired in September of 2020. Batjer stated that the restuarants will not have to use platforms under the new requirements and it removes authorization for sidewalk spaces.
The parking stall usage by the restaurants will expire when the (pandemic) emergency ends or the County enters Phase II which will once again allow patrons access to indoor dining.
Each year, the City Council adopts its Legislative agenda for the Washington State Legislative session. City Administrator Wade Ferris said, “I would like to get them to our legislators as soon as possible because the legislative session begins soon.
This year’s legislative issues include:
- Affordable Housing – Because of the City’s tourism-based economy, many local service industry workers are unable to afford living in Chelan or the Valley year round. The median price for a home in the valley has risen to $475,000. To help alleviate the need, the City supports the efforts of the Chelan Valley Housing Trust. The City will also support proposals that assist in creating rural residential housing for communities like Chelan. In addition, the City supports the creation of a tax on Short Term Rentals that would be dedicated to providing long term affordable housing for its workers.
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said that Chelan is missing a lot of funding for moderate to low income families. The Housing Trust is supporting higher income levels with its $200,000 homes that will be completed in February. The need for lower income affordable apartments or homes is a serious need in the valley.
Mayor Bob Goedde asked if anyone was following the legislature regarding affordable housing. Hollingsworth said he was trying to follow the issues.
- LakesidePark Improvements: Public Waterfront Access – Public access to Lake Chelan has become a high priority for the City and the City’s Parks Department. With more and more visitors from around the region accessing the Lake Chelan Valley, the parks are becoming overcrowded and parking is becoming a major issue for the City.
The City is making public access one of its highest priorities and will attempt to increase access through two targeted initiatives.
The City has had a master plan in place for Lakeside Park for several years, but has been unable to obtain the necessary grants and funding to increase the park’s capacity, safety and functionality. The master plan includes increased parking, new ADA compliant restrooms, trails along with beach enhancements and swim area improvements.
The Lakeside Park Improvement project has applied for $1 million in grants from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) in both 2018 and 2020, but ranked just below the cutoff for allocated funding. The City has allocated $103,000 towards additional swim area improvements which remains a high priority project.
In addition to seeking funding from the RCO for Lakeside Park, the City has undertaken a study to identify publicly owned areas along the waterfront with high potential for development into mini parks. The cost for all seven identified would cost approximately $1.5 million dollars.
Hollingsworth said he liked the treatment for the waterfront projects, but felt it was a little long winded. “I would like to see something that gives it some punch,” said Hollingsworth. We get people from around the region and state and I think the State needs to be a partner in this project.
John Olson agreed and stated that both he and Bob Goedde were born and raised in Chelan and haven’t seen any major changes to public access. “Our population has exploded and is expected to explode more,” said Olson who added that there are 8,000 housing units planned for the area. “The park systems haven’t changed in our lifetimes.”
- Pedestrian Safety i Downtown Chelan between HWY 97 & SR 150 – The City is requesting $700,000 in transportation funding for infrastructure to improve pedestrian safety.
- Washington Main Street Program – The City is requesting that the State increase the overall cap of the Main Street Tax Credit Incentive Program to $4 million in tax credits (currently $2,500,000).
- Water to ChelanAirport – The City and Port have been trying to obtain funding to get water to the Chelan Airport. This would give the airport area an adequate water supply to provide fire flow and permit construction of needed hanger space as well as possible new industry and warehouses. The estimated cost of getting water to the airport is $5.7 million dollars.
Golf Cart lease contract – The Council unanimously approved a lease agreement with Pacific Golf and Turf for new gas driven golf carts with hour meters on them. It will cost the City Parks Department $216,000 over the next five years. “I think we got a good deal,” said Parks Director Paul Horne.
Rate and Fee Resolution – The Council unanimously approved a new rate and fee structure for 2021 for garbage and recycling.
Lake Chelan Sewer District Agreement extension – The Council approved an extension with the Lake Chelan Sewer District agreement with the City until July which will allow the parties to negotiate a new longer term agreement.
During Mayor/Council comments – Mayor Goedde said that the Port and Chelan were setting up a Blue Ribbon Panel for the Airport. “There are a lot of decisions that need to be made that will cost between $4 to $14 million dollars,” said Goedde. “The good news is that the FAA will pay 90 percent of that cost.” He asked for a volunteer from the council to serve on the panel and asked for suggestions for residents who might be interested in serving. “I’m concerned with what the locals think about our airport.”
Councilman Chris Baker said he’d back up Peter Jamtgaard as the City Council members.
Mayor Goedde also stated that the Chelan School District was interested in finding some resolution to the boat-trailer parking issue at the High School. Jamtgaard stated that the lake has been overrun by boaters and the City needs to consider some launch fees for funding to add parking and more police protection on the lake.
City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m. Those interested in listening in can get a live stream of the meeting from Lake Chelan Now.