by Richard Uhlhorn
At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting there was a public hearing on the proposed 2023 Final Budget.
Councilman John Olson, who had proposed that the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce forgo $400,000 of their request for $700,000 so the City could address Tourism related infrastructure.
Bed tax, commonly known as 3% monies collected for heads on beds has been a source of tourism related funding for Chelan over a number of years. As the Lake Chelan Valley becomes busier and busier with visitors and tourists, there is a consensus among many in the Valley that it is time to slow down the Lake Chelan Chamber’s marketing efforts.
Olson, in his comments told the Council that Chelan is the No.1 tourist destination in the state. “All of our city is a tourist facility,” he wrote.
Olson continued by asking executive director Mike Steele to forgo $400,000 from is 2023 $700,000 request so it could be put into public infrastructure to support the community’s tourism.
Steele’s response at the workshop was that “it is not the Chamber’s responsibility to provide public infrastructure; it’s the City’s responsibility to do so.”
Olson retorted that he agreed with Steele and added, “it is not the City’s responsibility to financially support the Chamber. That’s the Chamber’s responsibility.”
Olson then told the Council that he was withdrawing his request for the $400,000 and, instead, requesting that the Council deny all of the $700,000 requested by the Chamber and earmarking that funding to go into the City’s CIP (Capital Improvements Fund) program to support tourist-oriented facilities like the Skate Park, Butte acquisition, Lake Street Pocket Park, downtown restrooms along with a number of other tourist related projects.
Councilwoman Erin McCardle – City’s liaison with the Chamber asked Olson to forward his comments to all of the council members. “I sit on the marketing committee,” said McCardle.
A decision was made to have the issue discussed at the upcoming December 6 City workshop.
Social Media services – The Council unanimously agreed to an extended Social Media Management Services Agreement with Jenna Rahm.
Water Quality studies –The Council also agreed to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute an Interlocal Agreement between the City and Lake Chelan Research Institute and Chelan County Natural Resources Department for $25,000 per year for the next five years to continue its long term monitoring program on Lake Chelan.
Phil Long, director of the Institute gave a presentation outlining the monitoring efforts. Long told the Council that the City’s initial five-year agreement for $20,000 a year made a huge difference in the program.
“The lake is doing well,” said Long. However, there are changes occurring in the near-shore zone including algae growth on the shoreline rocks, pilings, etc along with 520 acres of Eurasian Milfoil and Pond Weed growing on the bottom mostly in the Wapato Basin.
Long hopes the Institute can determine how much nutrients are coming into the lake from various sources; pesticide/herbicide pollution, goose poop, storm water runoff and temperature changes. “We should have been monitoring near shore environmental impacts,” said Long. Most of the monitoring has been accomplished in the middle of the lake where no significant changes have occurred since 1986.
The Icicle Fund granted $25,000 to the Institute which is a first for Chelan. The Institute is also receiving private funding from residents, Campbell’s Resort, the Lookout and Lakeside Lodge & Suites.
Long hopes to receive funding and research help from the State and Federal governments.
Councilman Peter Jamtgaard asked Long about potential solution outside of the expensive underwater DASH solution. He asked about bulldozing the invasive weeds when the lake was down and a boat inspection program to keep the invasive species out of the lake
Jamtgaard said the first areas that should be cleaned up was where people accessed the lake. “Those are the most important areas. Olson asked how deep the milfoil and pond weed grew. Long replied up to 30 to 35 feet.
Apple Blossom Planned Development District:
Community Development Director John Ajax told the Council that there was no pressure to make a motion to prepare an ordinance to amend the ABC Development’s agreement at this meeting.
McCardle told the Council members that she highly recommends that they sit down with Ajax and go over the proposed agreement before making a decision. Both she and John Olson spent several hours with Ajax on the proposed agreement.
City Council is requested to review and consider this draft Development Agreement Amendment in order to prepare a final draft for consideration at a future public meeting. Any comments or concerns Council may have will be incorporated into a revised final draft.
Chris Baker stated that if Chelan wasn’t so nice, “we wouldn’t have all these problems.”
Mayor Goedde said the County is disposing of two property parcels; one of which is a 5.7 acre gravel pit on Boyd Road. The County wants $120,000 and Goedde asked the Council if they want to consider purchasing the property. “I need a consensus,” he said and asked City Administrator Wade Ferris to give the City some time to consider the property.
Goedde also mentioned that Brian Patterson has put together a traffic count study. “I’m impressed with his work.” He wants Brian to work with Public Works on this issue.
Public Works Director Jake Youngren reported that the department has shared data with Patterson.
On Tuesday, December 6, Council and staff will hold a workshop to discuss the issues that have come forth, namely Olson’s request for Chamber funding for infrastructure and the ABC proposed Planned Development.