City to approve legislative priorities at next Council meeting

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By Richard Uhlhorn

At the beginning of each year, the City of Chelan decides on what will be its Legislative Priorities for the year will be. Legislative Priorities are a list that is submitted to the Washington State Legislature as the most important issues facing the community. The following list of priorities will be approved by the City Council at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 11. They are as follows:

Affordable Housing:

Vin du Lac has a program called ‘Abode’ to help the Chelan Valley Housing Trust raise money for its next affordable building project.

Affordable housing has been a hot button issue in the Community for a number of years. While the Chelan Housing Trust is dedicated to building affordable homes for individuals wanting to purchase, the need far outweighs the Trust’s efforts.

The largest issue is the both the hospitality industry and retail establishments continue to experience worker shortages because potential employees cannot afford to live in Chelan

The City Council support efforts to develop dormitory style housing for those seasonal and full-time workers.

The City’s priority will in 2022 will be to support proposals that assist in creating rural residential housing including the efforts of Representative Mike Steele and Senator Brad Hawkins who recently proposed utilizing 1 percent of the 3 percent bed tax for affordable housing.

In addition the City supports the creation of a tax on Short Term Rentals that is dedicated to funding affordable housing.

Public Waterfront Access:

Lakeside Park has become overcrowded, but the Chelan Parks Department is hopeful it will receive a ROC grant to help alleviate parking, and overcrowding.

Public waterfront access is another hot button issue that has become even more acute with the increased visitation during the summer months that fills up Chelan’s public parks to capacity.

The community at large has been requesting more public access to the lake and it has become a high priority for the City Council to address.

Increased and improved public access is a critical legislative priority for the City of Chelan. This year, the City has prioritized increasing access through two targeted initiatives.

The Parks Department has developed and refined a master plan for Lakeside Park to increase capacity, safety and functionality. This plan increases parking and restroom capacity as well as adding ADA compliant trails, beach enhancements, swim area improvements and a new playground.

The City ranked below allocated funding from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) in 2018 and 2019. With City funds already allocated for the required matching funds for this project if it is granted the $1 million from the RCO.

Another grant being sought is from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which uses Federal funds at the State level. The City is requesting that $4 million be added to the $6 million allocated to the program for the 2021-2023 funding cycle or to allocated $1 million of capital budget funding specifically for this project.

Chelan Waterfront Access Plan:

The Park Street street end will be the first of seven street ends the City wants to improve for public access.

The City has identified seven locations for its Waterfront Access Plan (Road Ends Project) with the City Council approving $150,000 to improve the Park Street access point. The problem is that the total cost of these projects is an estimated $1,486,000 which without an influx of money will take years to accomplish.

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Pedestrian Safety:

The City is requesting $700,000 from transportation funding for infrastructure to improve pedestrian safety along both Hwy 97A and Hwy 150 in the City. This would include visibility enhancements, traffic calming measures, additional Rapid Flashing lights and refuge islands.

The City is mostly concerned about the crosswalks in front of its schools and other high use areas like Saunders Street between the Bridge and Woodin Avenue.

These Legislative Priorities may be amended, changed and or embellished at the Tuesday evening City Council meeting.

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Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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