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.
Speed kills! That is a major concern of residents and downtown businesses adjacent to Manson Blvd from Lake Chelan Building Supply through the downtown corridor and up to the intersection of Manson Blvd. and Boetske Avenue.
The topic of vehicles speeding through that corridor at speeds above the posted 25 miles per hour speed limit has elevated the topic for the Manson Community Council seeking solutions to slow traffic down on this highly used section of road.
The Council requested that Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing, Eric Pierson – County Public Works Engineer and County law enforcement representatives attend the Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21 to discuss the speeding issue.
There have been several accidents and one person killed during a hit-and-run. “There is a lot of pedestrian traffic and we need to see if we can work something out,” said one resident.
Engineer Eric Pierson stated that there were a lot of things to look at. He suggested what he called a “pie in the Eye” solution of making Boetske and Manson Blvd. into one way corridors. Commissioner Gearing suggested narrowing the corridor down to help slow traffic.
The most productive ideas were education and law enforcement of the speed limits, however, the Chief of Patrol Buhler said that while tickets have already been written, the Sheriff’s department can’t be there full time. “Regardless of speed signs, people drive at what they feel comfortable at,” he said.
Soft Speed Bumps came up as a solution but Pierson said snow plowing, water runoff and bicycles and motorcycles might have problems. Mayor Goedde stated that they can also be a liability.
Councilman Chris Willoughby asked about flashing speed signs.
Gearing suggested increased law enforcement presence. “The new Sheriff has increased patrols and that pressure has definitely helped,” said Gearing. She added that she made a whole list and will meet with Pierson to discuss solutions and to try and fund it. She told the Council that she would get back to them the following week.
On Saturday, March 25, there will be a beach cleanup from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. beginning at Lake ChelanMarina. Anyone interested in keeping our lake bottom clean of garbage and milfoil are invited to join the students from April Slagle’s Chelan Project to help in this endeavor.
SEE YOU ALL THERE
During the Mayor/Council comments at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Erin McCardle came out with a strong rebuttal to Councilman John Olson’s recent comments regarding what he feels is a Conflict of Interest between Michael Steele’s executive directorship of the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce and his role as the Republican ranking member on the State Legislature’s Finance Committee. According to McCardle, Steele is the ranking member on the State’s Capital Budget committee.
Olson had stated that visitors to Chelan contribute to Chelan’s aging infrastructure and public services, and asked if it was reasonable to pass on those costs to local residents.
McCardle pointed out different ways visitors contribute to replacement of the City’s infrastructure including the 2% Lodging tax which can and is used for capital projects like the upgrades at the Golf Course and RV Park
She mentioned Sales Tax, of which she claims 50 to 60% is generated through tourism dollars. She remarked that Real Estate taxes from new homeowners also contribute to funding many capital projects such as the acquisition of the Library Building, the Parks Building currently under construction, matching funds for the Lakeside Trail grant and Chelan Airport waterline funding.
Property taxes from second home owners also provide revenue allocated to street upgrades and Utility charges generated by second home owners who pay utility fees for the entire year.
McCardle also said she recognizes the need to find a balance between visitors and residents. “It is our job as councilmembers to be stewards across the board.”
There has been discussions within the State on the diversification of lodging tax dollars usage. McCardle stated that Olson’s comment that Steele’s two positions were in conflict was irresponsible and potentially damaging to the City’s relationship with Steele.
“Please recognize that we have a long list of infrastructure needs and he (Steele) is our key to securing state funding for these projects,” said McCardle.
She brought up that Representative Steele has helped procure over $11 million in funding for specific projects and is working on $16 million in funding for 2023.
No one is denying that Representative Michael Steele has done a great job, not only in increasing tourism in Chelan, but bringing in State money for specific projects. It is appreciated.
John Olson and Erin McCardle have differing opinions on the subject of tourism and that is one of the things that makes our City Council vibrant and engaged. No one wants a Council that agrees on every issue.
Olson’s contention and many in the community feel that Chelan has more tourists and visitors than it can reasonably serve well. McCardle’s contention is that more tourism is needed for the revenues it drives.
Since both of them have indicated that they will be running for Mayor against Mayor Bob Goedde, the upcoming 2024 local election season will be quite interesting.
Tim Hollingsworth brought up the possibility of raising the pay for Mayor Goedde four years ago and felt it is a good time to re-address this issue. “I believe this is somewhat in line,” said Hollingsworth. He would like to see a 20% raise for the mayor. “Mayor Goedde puts in a lot of time and it is important to recognize the work that goes into being there,” added Hollingsworth. He would like the rest of the council members to consider the pay raise.
John Olson noted the donation of the Boat Cleaning Station that will be located at the marina. He brought up rough estimates of damage if either Zebra or Gardia mussels were ever allowed to become established in the watershed. “It would cost each dam at least a million dollars a year in maintenance,” he said.
Mayor Goedde said he met with the Chelan County Commissioners and the Boyd Road property is off the board, but that the County offered the City the 20 acres above the Beebe Springs Trailhead on Hwy 150. This property was obtained by the County from the Wa. St. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jake Youngren stated that Public Works was contracting with Cascadia for another brush cleanup this spring.
Paul Horne said the late, cold spring weather has delayed the opening of the Golf Course. He also said the Albatross owners are working on building upgrades at the Golf Course.
Wade Farras added that Julie Pittsinger, owner of the Albatross Restuarant is in the process of having the bathrooms and downstairs area remodeled to make it more user friendly.
Self Contained Boat Cleaning Station donated:
Paul Horne, parks director, reported to the Council that Wildlife Forever has donated free of charge a Self Contained Boat Cleaning Station that will be located at the Lake Chelan Marina.
“I worked with Lisa Dowling at Chelan County Natural Resources Department on this acquisition,” said Horne. “There is no match requirement for the donation and no strings attached to the unit,” he added.
There will be periodic maintenance costs associated with the unit from cleaning and/or repairing or replacing components as necessary.
There is an optional lease for software to track usage of the unit and to indicate when the tanks are 80% full. This fee is included for the first year with no obligation to continue the software’s use after that despite the importance of continuing that service.
City Council meets in regular session every second and fourth Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m. Residents and others are encouraged to attend.
Last week’s Watershed Planning Unit meeting had some good news, challenging new and potentially bad news.
The bad news is the potential re-introduction of Bull Trout into the Lake Chelan tributary system. Bull trout have been extinct in the lake since sometimes in the fifties. No one knows what killed off the species that were the backbone of a thriving commercial fishery on the lake.
The decision will probably not be made until next year.
Resident Russ Jones remarked that one possibility of the trout’s disappearance was the introduction of a virus from a hatchery planting of Chinook salmon. “Has anyone even looked to see if a virus is still present in the lake,” he asked.
Phil Long – Lake Chelan Research Institute, told the researchers that they should talk to local fishing guide Joe Heinlen. Heinlen is a local expert on fish and its history on Lake Chelan.
Joe Benjamin -U.S. Geological Survey, is the primary investigator in the potential re-introduction of Bull trout to Lake Chelan tributaries. The project is being funded by the National Park Service and the National Resources Preservation Program. “This should be transparent and affected by decisions,” said Benjamin. “We are looking at how species fit together.”
Mike Kaputa -Chelan County Natural Resources director, said, “There is a lot of interest in this. We all want an open and transparent process.”
Long added that Heinlen has strong opinions about fisheries on the lake. “He makes his living fishing on the lake,” Long. Heinlen has been vocal about Bull trout in the past and has said that any introduction of the species in the Lake Chelan Valley’s tributaries would ruin current recreational fishing in those streams. He also worries about potential migration to the lake.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” said Benjamin. Kaputa remarked that the proposed Grizzly bear reintroduction has a lot of opposition. Bull trout are an endangered species and Kaputa said, “There would be a lot of regulations regarding their introduction and a lot of concern about it.”
Kaputa went on and asked Benjamin to describe what the future program would look like. Benjamin replied that the question is whether they want to reintroduce Bull trout or not.
Benjamin stated that they are looking at impacts on other fish populations. “It is a three year project and we are pretty close to finalizing where to put Bull trout. The final results will be available next year,” he said. He also remarked that that impacts on landowners are also being considered regarding adding a predator to the system.
Other watershed news of note:
Department of Ecology’s Candis Graff announced her retirement from Ecology May 25. Graff has been at the forefront of water permitting and the new program to process them efficiently. She was not sure who would be replacing her.
Chelan County Resources director Mike Kaputa said the new water code was going very smoothly and that they are close to finishing a grant on water banking. “It will give us more tools to move water around,” said Kaputa. “We are continuing to explore how to provide water across the county.”
Phil Long, director of the Lake Chelan Research Institute brought up the subject of River Otters in the Lake Chelan Watershed. “They seem to be everywhere in the lake,” he said. The otters food chain includes freshwater mussels (maybe Asian clams), fish, crayfish, amphibians, aquatic beetles, birds, bird eggs, fish eggs and small mammals.
The Institute began water sampling this week for phosphorus and chlorophyll In addition the Institute will be taking near shore surface water temperatures.
The Institute is conducting a “goose poop” study with $600 that has been donated for that purpose from Campbell’s, the Lookout and Lakeside Lodge and Suites. Goose poop is not only a messy onshore situation, but is thought to be one of the main contributors to algae growth along the lake shore along with phosphorus loading from lawn fertilizers.
Long mentioned the Woodin Avenue stormwater drain which needs to be filtered to keep stormwater runoff from entering the Chelan River just west of Chelan’s water intake.
The sand barrier on the west side of the Three Fingers is also of concern. Geese and ducks are using the area and polluting the trapped water with leavings. The question is whether or not to mitigate the issue by modifying it or removing the spit altogether.
Another issue on the Lake is personal watercraft wakes that are creating erosion of the shoreline. According to Long this issue needs to be monitored.
Kaputa mentioned the DDT project in Lake Chelan and said the EPA is looking at a bigger picture with a Columbia River Restoration Working Group. The group is collecting data on toxins such as DDT and PCBs. “They are sampling 440 miles up river,” said Kaputa. “They are finding toxin levels 10 times lower than downstream.”
Lake Chelan has a DDT issue also and studies will be conducted on Stinky Creek at Harmony Meadows. DDT seems to be coming out of orchard drains.
Lisa Dowling reported that water craft inspections will be taking place from May to October. “We are in the process of recruiting four AIS watercraft inspectors,” said Dowling. The program will rotate mobile trailers between high use marinas. Neighborhood inspections will also be offered for local boaters.
Dowling also stated that the City of Chelan is getting a waterless wash station at its Lakeshore Marina. “The county will help the marina where it is situated. It is a top of the line unit and will be free of operational expenses for its first year of operation.”
On Saturday, March 25 there will be a beach cleanup starting at Chelan’s Lakeshore Marina from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The effort will include weeding aquatic invasive species for removal from the lake bottom.
The removal of Woody Debris will be studied and the County will be looking at sites for removal.
Wednesday, March 8 Chelan Fire & Rescue long range strategy meeting:
Chief Brandon Asher invited Chelan Community Development John Ajax and Chelan County Interim Community Development Director and Assessor Deanna Walter to address the Department’s staff and commissioners regarding the future of growth in the District’s area of operation.
Asher opened the meeting by stating that that there is a lot of growth happening within the District boundaries. “I reached out to the City and County to gain any nugget we can use regarding development,” said Asher.
“The challenge I’ve had is getting accurate population numbers. I get varied answers from a number of people.”
In 2022 Chelan Fire and Rescue responded to 54 fires, 771 EMS calls and 11 hazardous waste situations. “This year has been very busy for us,” said Asher who estimates a six percent increase in callouts.
Chelan Community Development Director John Ajax and Chelan Building Official Luis Rodrequez presented Chelan’s development history over the past three years and a general look into the future.
Ajax stated that within the past three years Chelan has seen incredible growth. “2022 was a record year,” said Ajax. “Between 2020 and 2021 we approved 150 home pemits. Most are moving into the rural areas.” Ajax added that development has slowed down due to higher interest rates.
Rodriquez stated that most of the applications are for residential buildings with some commercial thrown in. “We see a lot going on with single family buildings.” There are currently 300 lots not including multi-family applications.
With the approval for 720 units at Apple Blossom Center, Rodriquez doesn’t know if that is a reality. He said 280 apartment units will be built, but the developer has a 25 year build out.
The major concern in the valley is water. Rodriquez mentioned the upcoming TIF (Tax Increment Financing TIF is a powerful financing tool used to fund economic development and investment in infrastructure. • Principal behind TIF is based on “capturing” future increased tax dollars that are generated due to the development} Public Outreach meeting that will be coming up in the near future.
Most of the residential sales have been for second homes and Ajaz stated that Chelan is the second fastest growing community in Chelan County behind Leavenworth.
Chairman Phil Moller asked for a summary. Rodrequez said that there are 18 permits out not including applications. “There is still a lot of activity,” he said. This includes some commercial multi-family mixed use units that would include retail.
Moller asked for a five year view and Ajax stated that most developers had no plans to immediately turn around and start building. He mentioned Campbell’s Highland Farms 27 lots and Wagner’s Apartment development. “They are not looking to build anytime soon,” said Ajax. He also mentioned that affordable housing is a big subject now.
Ajax mentioned Chelan Butte which is under contract with a developer for the next two years. “They have asked for a boundary line adjustment,” said Ajax. ‘We haven’t seen a development proposal yet.”
Commissioner Russ Jones asked where the water project to the airport was and Ajax replied that the City is waiting on the legislature who will hopefully fund the final $1 million needed to construct.
Ajax also said that the Bluewater Terrace proposed project doesn’t have water and is asking to drill a well. “They would have to provide fire flow,” said Ajax. Bluewater Terrace development is currently under review by the City and has requested a permit to build 20 Short Term Rental duplex units under a Conditional Use Permit.
Ajax stated that Chelan and the County are waiting on official population numbers from the State. He said he would inform the Fire Department when he had more accurate numbers.
Chelan County Assessor Dianna Walters said that the County does not have any big developments currently. “We have nothing on the books,” she stated. “The Wenatchee UGA has one project. Home prices have impacted people,” she added. With lots priced between $400,000 and $500,000 people are reluctant to buy. The County’s highest year for building permits was in 2021 with 1,000 permits approved. Another 900 were approved in 2022.
“If I had a crystal ball… which I don’t, I’m seeing a reduction in material prices and interest rates up.” She expects to see more additions, remodels and ADU’s being applied for. “I anticipate building permits to go down.”
“We see people putting on brakes and asking what do we do with a 6,000 sq. ft. house.” She also remarked about the Mission Ridge expansion project. “There will be years before that sees fruition. It’s a huge project.”
Jones brought up Manson as having more buildable ground than anywhere else in the valley. Walter’s said that Manson has a large Urban Growth Area and that there are several small development outside of the UGA.
She mentioned the difficulties farmers are having making a living on 10 acres of land. “I don’t know how the County is going to deal with it.”
She put on her Assessor’s hat and told the commission and staff that in the first three quarters of 2022 assessed values were going up, but have now flattened out. “The market is flattening out.”
“We will never see the market back where it was in the last 10 years,” said Walters.
Walters put on her assessors hat and told the commissioners that their $1.10 permanent LID Lift in 2021 will see the 2022 level collecting $1.10. “Just because your levy rate goes down, your dollar amount doesn’t,” she said. “In one year, the permanent LID Lift values went up so high that the rate went down. You only have to worry when you get to the statutory $1.50.” She remarked that Chelan Fire and Rescue is in a good financial position.
Chief Asher started the long term strategic discussion by saying it was time to have a discussion on John Goyne’s retirement which is scheduled to begin on November 1 of 2023. “We need to keep that on the radar and find potential candidates for the position,” said Asher. Asher also stated that whom ever becomes the new mechanic would need to be a firefighter also.
Jones stated that the District needs to better understand where the growth is. He mentioned the Apple Blossom project as an example. “What can we do to prepare for that?”
Asher replied that the ABC area can be covered by Station 71 with backup. He mentioned the new station being built by Douglas County that would overlap the District’s five mile radius. “I’m more concerned with multiple calls,” said Asher.
Jones added that there is a marked growth in the Manson area, and Asher said he could see something going on in that direction. He mentioned Chief Baker approaching retirement age and said Chelan Fire is District 5’s backup.
Asher said that the new Douglas County Firehall across the river would allow the department to close down the Chelan Falls station. Moller said he is reluctant to close Chelan Falls because he sees growth continuing in that area.
Union Valley was also mentioned as a major growth area. “People keep moving deeper and deeper into Union Valley,” said Asher. Union Valley has the most active volunteer group of all the stations.
Assistant Chief Shaun Sherman remarked that the department needs to establish how it is going to continue using the current building. “We don’t have the storage space for gear lockers. We are out growing the space we have,” said Sherman.
He suggested putting up some out buildings for storage and training exercises.
Moller replied that there are a thousand “if’s”. “Where does the money keep coming from,” he asked.
Asher said that the volunteer numbers are down, but that the quality is up. “We are going to lose some of them to career positions this year,” stated Asher.
Sherman stated that he wants to increase the value of his training regime this year. “We have good applications and interviews are coming up.”
Asher said, “We need to get creative with staffing.” The department has four seasonal applications in but is only budgeted for three. Commissioner Oules asked what it would take to budget for the fourth seasonal?
The rest of the strategic meeting went through the department’s apparatus and station situations.
The Department’s beginning balance (carryover from 2022) was $747555.99.
Tax Revenue is projected at $3,485,762.44 and other revenue from grants and other sources is projected at $197,798.44. Transfers in will amount to $250,000.
After transfers out and expenses, the department is projected to end the 2023 year with a carryover balance of $,553,389.25.
March 7, 2023 – Public Hearing – Campbell’s Highland Subdivision:
So far, it’s been a busy meeting week. It all began with a Public Hearing on Campbell’s application for its 42.3 acre development of 27 homesites adjacent to the Chelan Golf Course.
Chelan County Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp presided over the hearing which didn’t last over 40 minutes.
No one from the public spoke at the meeting, so Kottkamp will rely on Chelan Planning Department’s recommendation for approval and the written comments from individuals for or against and agencies.
“I will make my decision within 10 working days,” said Kottkamp who also stated that it would be final. Anyone who wishes to appeal the decision will have 21 days from the final decision.
Charlie Underwood, Campbell’s representative told Kottkamp that he had reviewed the Staff Report and conditions of approval for the 27 lots. “We went over quite a few issues with Planning and Public Works,” said Underwood. He thanked both departments for their efforts.
The applicant, when they develop the subdivision, will be required to provide pedestrian connectivity from their development all the way to the Hwy-150 roundabout.
It was also noted that a new winery associated with the development, but under different owners is undergoing commercial review at this time.
There are no current plans by the Campbell’s to begin construction immediately.
March 7, 2023 City Council Workshop:
There were three topics on the City’s Tuesday workshop agenda; a City Website update, a Public Works GIS/GPS/Assest Management report, and a Scoping report on the HDCA downtown revitalization project by Consultant Tom Beckwith and his associates.
City Clerk Peri Gallucci told the Council and staff that she and Deputy Clerk Cali Taylor had spent hundreds of hours to get the City’s new public friendly website ready to launch. “We may need some more changes, but it has been a lot of work and a lot of fun,” said Gallucci. “It will be very helpful for our citizens.”
Couch took the workshop through the draft website. “There are six widgets (buttons) to take visitors to their desired area within the City,” she said.
Councilman Peter Jamtgaard asked how will people know what’s down the page, and complained that citizens might not drag down to find a calendar. He felt the calendar should be front and center, but City Administrator Wade Farris replied that the Peri and Cailey had worked really hard on the website. “This is pretty simple,” he stated. “I don’t know how much simpler it can be. The one’s I have looked at have been pretty similar. My hat’s off to the staff.”
Gallucci added that during the development process they had looked at hundreds of websites and stated that the new website’s help citizens find what they are looking for within the City government. She also said that the City Code functionality might be a couple of month’s down the road.
Asset Management program:
Public Works Director Jake Youngren, Engineering Technician Jackson Engstrom and Engineer Travis Denham gave a presentation on the ongoing efforts to transfer all of the Public Works records in a digital form that can be accessed by staff, whether in the field or office.
“This has happened over the last 24 months,” said Youngren. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Engstrom described how the department is utilizing different satellites do develop the City’s digital GIS Map. The satellites being used include American, European and Japanese units.
Each of the Public Works foremen have I-Pads so they can access data on-site. “This data is also accessible on cell phones,” stated Engstrom. Youngren used a three day search for a buried manhole as an example of that will be corrected by utilizing GIS latitude/longitude information to locate services. “That’s just a glimpse of what we are doing.”
The Asset Management program also follows labor, equipment and materials. Deham described how the GIS system is used to locate valves and pipes in the system.
Youngren finished the presentation by telling those present. “We love this stuff.”
Boyd Road Property:
Mayor Bob Goedde said Chelan County has two parcels they want to get rid of. One of those parcels is an old five acre gravel pit that has been offered to Chelan for $115,000.
Goedde said the County wants the total amount paid up front and requires that Chelan put affordable housing on that five acres within the next five years. If that doesn’t happen, the property reverts back to the County, but $115,000 is lost to the City.
Godde stated that the City is extremely disappointed in the County’s demands. Wade Ferris said the City will pull the plug on the deal and let the County put the property up for auction. “We don’t want to slam the door but are not excited,” said Goedde. He also said he’s not all that thrilled with the Chelan Housing Trust. Ferris said there could be an opportunity to partner with the Wenatchee Housing Authority to build affordable apartments on the property.
Historic Downtown Chelan Association revitalization:
Tom Beckwith – Beckwith Consulting, and three of his associates were on hand to give the City an overview of the scoping exercise they will be conducting for the HDCA’s Downtown Revitalization Project.
Beckwith told the Council that its work will take 18 to 21 months to develop its scoping documents that will include open houses for the public to weigh in on the project, estimated costs, financing options and complete bid documents.
Beckwith said staff would be working with businesses and property owners. “We can hopefully anticipate what the future is bringing,” said Beckwith. “There will be an older population, more electric cars, scooters and bikes.” Beckwith wants the exercise to develop not only what works now, but also to anticipate future needs.
One of the more contensious issues has been the proposal to expand (widen) downtown sidewalks. These are issues Beckwith will be dealing with as they go through the exercise.
Beckwith told the Council and staff that if they had any questions to contact Aimee Sheridan -executive director, of the HDCA. She can be reached at 509-682-4322 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheriff Morrison introduction: Chelan County Sheriff Mike Morrison officially introduced himself and his Chief of Operations, Ryan Moody. He told the Council that Rob Huddleston has been appointed to the Chelan division of the Sheriff’s Department as its new chief.
He also brought up the upcoming Marine Program that has been struggling to maintain order on the lake in the past. “Sgt. Huddleston will be taking this program over and we will have three marine patrol officers assigned to patrol the lake during the summer months.”
Councilman John Olson asked Sheriff Morrison if there would be a supplemental budget request to cover the additional deputies. Morrison said, “No.” He has redirected department resources to cover the extra marine patrol detectives and also stated that Sgt. Huddleston would make up the fourth to help cover the lake. “It was just a common sense fit. Under Sgt. Huddleston program we are going in the right direction.”
Sheriff Morrison also mentioned the six deaths that have occurred on the Wenatchee River. “We need to bring a little more order to our waterways,” he said.
NCWEconomic District competition:
Alice Brown – Executive Director and Chanet Stevenson – Associate Director of the North Central Washington Economic Development District presented the EDD’s Supernova Business Launch Competition that helps new business start-ups looking to expand into Okanogan, Douglas, Ferry, and Chelan Counties, and the Colville Indian Reservation compete for $10,000 plus free workshops, networking, and peer support.
Applications ended in February and the program has received 32 applications with three from the Lake Chelan Valley. “We would like to see you guys more engaged with the programs,” said Stevenson.
Community Center at Lake Chelan:
Maribel Cruz, director of operations at the under construction Community Center, presented a proposed plan to construct a 750 sq. ft. indoor play area at the center. The cost to construct has been quoted at $189,873 from SoftPlay.
The play area will be open to the public with no usage fees to ensure accessibility by all members of the community.
Cruz was on hand to revisit the possibility of securing funds from the City from its ARP funds.
She told the Council that the Community Center is 90% funded at $16.2 million much of which has come through generous donations. ,
The third phase will include the aquatic center. “We want to be able to cover the pool and make it available year round,” said Cruz.
Chris Baker asked it the Root School was still going to be involved. Cruz replied that after conversations with the school, it didn’t quite match their needs, but she added, “They are re-interested now.”
Wade Ferris said that $700,000 of the American Rescue Funds have been committed to the sewer/water mains on Anderson Road and another $200,000 towards the food bank expansion plans. “We have $200,000 that has not been committed,” said Ferris. He cautioned that the remaining funds might have to be kept in reserve for unexpected costs. “We are aware of the rising costs,” said Cruz.
Cruz also told the Council that they are talking about not making the Center a membership based fee, but a pass based fee to offset costs of operations.
Tim Hollingsworth remarked that the Center is $1 million short and Cruz replied that the Foundations goal in 2023 is to close that funding gap.
John Olson asked if there was a traffic study with the Lookout planning another 35 homes across Big Horn Way from the Center. Community Development Director John Ajax replied that they do have one and are asking for a new one. Public Works Director Jake Youngren stated that they planned on collecting traffic date more frequently.
Hollingsworth stated that he didn’t see the Community Center as a big driver for traffic impacts.
Mayor Goedde remarked that he feels the project is fantastic, but is concerned about potential cost overruns on the Anderson Road project.
Cruz ended by saying, “We would love to partner with the City in anyway possible.”
Tim Hollingsworth said he had attended a Toyota Center board meeting and that 900 tickets had been sold for the Bighorn’s opening semi-professional basketball team for Thursday night’s game against Seattle.
Hollingsworth also asked about the Council Handbook that is forthcoming. City Clerk, Peri Gallucci replied that they have borrowed language from another City. The handbook will be a general guide to the do’s and don’ts of a councilmember.j
John Olson brought up his challenge to the Chamber of Commerce’s request for $700,000 for promotion of Chelan.
The Council decided to override Olson’s request 6-1 and give the Chamber the $700,000 requested for this calendar year, but will evaluate the long term relationship and write a new contract. “Chelan is not short on visitors, but we are short on visitor facilities and services,” said Olson.
Olson stated that the diversification of lodging tax dollar uses is beginning to get recognition from the AWC, legislature and governor.
Olson stated that he thinks changing the uses will be an uphill battle because Mike Steele is not only the Chamber Director but also the Ranking member of the State House Finance Committee. “There’s a real conflict of interest here,” said Olson.
Mayor Goedde stated that according to Steele, the City will not get another 2% in Stadium funding added to the 5% currently assessed for heads on beds, but there is a good chance that Chelan could get a 1% bump.
Ferris remarked that Alabama raised their lodging tax take from 7% to 10%.
Vicki Carr – board member of the Wenatchee Valley Housing Trust spoke during Citizen Comments at Tuesday’s City Council meeting on February28 and stated that 80 percent of applicants for housing are from the agricultural industry and 20 percent are low income individuals.
“We have 30 projects in the Wenatchee and Chelan County area,” said Carr. She informed the Council that Gibson Gardens will be undergoing a major upgrade. “I’m very happy to be of service to our community,” she added.
Mike Cooney introduced Scott Meyer to the Council as the Chelan Valley Housing Trust’s new Executive Director. Myer stated that the Trust would be constructing 16 new townhomes just north of Emerson Gardens and have a few single family homes in the mix. “My door is always open,” said Myer.
The City will hold a Workshop on Tuesday, March 7 beginning at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers. The public is invited to attend, but will not be able to speak unless recognized by Mayor Goedde.
“Manson is an accident waiting to happen,” Manson resident Pat Hautenne told the Manson Community Council at its Tuesday evening, February 21 meeting.
He mentioned to incidents that have happened in Manson; a vehicle losing control and driving into Buddy’s “My Place” bar and another accident where the driver veered off Manson Boulevard into Hautenne’s parked car that was off the main road.
“My neighbors and I would like to see something done,” stated Hautenne. He suggested a number of potential fixes to slow traffic down on Manson Boulevard which is already posted at 25 mph.
The problem is that no one seems to be following the speed limit on Manson Blvd. It has been a subject of heated conversation in the past at council meetings. The speeding issue seems to be from Lake Chelan Building Supply at the east end of town to the intersection of Manson Blvd. and Botske.
Apparently, it’s not just cars, but apple trucks also speeding through. “When they go through, they are hauling,” stated Hautenne.
Other areas of concern are the Manson School Zones and other narrow roads like Wapato Way which receives a lot of traffic.
Hautenne said that the Sheriff’s Department sent several deputies out to monitor the speeds and gave out nine tickets in front of his home in a short amount of time.
Hautenne stated that he called Chelan County Engineer Eric Pierson and asked if it would be possible to have some Speed Humps (not Bumps) installed to help slow traffic down. “He was totally negative and stated that the County would not be installing speed humps. It’s a bad situation and it is not getting any better.” Hautenne also said that the City of Seattle has spend $21 million on Speed Humps to slow down traffic.
Speed Humps are a lot more gentle than speed bumps and according to research tend to slow traffic by 10 to 15 mph. One issue Engineer Pierson brought up was snow plowing, but Jake Youngren, public works director at the City of Chelan said the speed humps up at Mt. Goat Field are temporary. “They are an operational challenge,” said Youngren. “We take them down in the fall and put them back up in the spring.” So they are temporary and a 20 foot wide hump costs about $3,000.
Chris Willoughby suggested that lowering the speed limit to 20 mph from the current 25 mph might also be a part of the solution. “I think the County will accept a speed change faster than installing humps.” He also stated that speeding tickets tend to be expensive over the posted speed limit.
The Council voted unanimously to request a speed limit change from the Lake Chelan Building Supply to the intersection of Manson Blvd. and Botske Avenue.
The idea of Manson incorporating is on hold and is just a conversation currently. According to Brian Patterson, the County should pay for the feasibility study. Manson resident Mike Kirk said he thought it was required state law that the County would pay for it. “I thought that too,” said Patterson.
The MRSC (Municipal Research and Services Center) states that “for the most part, the cost of incorporation attempts have been born by the county governments in which the incorporations have been proposed.” It continues: Incorporation initiators should contact the boundary review board, if there is one for their county, or the county legislative authority if no board exists, to determine what procedures exist for preparation and financing of incorporation studies. This should be done early in the process to ensure timely preparation of a study.
Chairman Kari Sorenson said that should be mailed to Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing, and that the study would most likely be over $100,000.
The Council still needs to determine if the community is interested in incorporation.
Commissioner Gearing emailed both the Manson Chamber of Commerce and Manson Community Council about the County’s plan to chip seal many of the road surfaces in Manson to discuss timing.
Both mid-June and late-July time slots will be considered, but the County would like feedback from both organizations.
Willoughby said the mid-June date would probably be better, but rain is always a possibility in June.
District 5 Fire Chief Arnold Baker gave a presentation to the Chelan Fire & Rescue on District 5’s Regional Training Center. “We started out with three container boxes,” said Baker. That has changed to a total of 10 containers. The District received a $100,000 grant and additional funding from Chelan County to help with the construction of the training center which will begin in the spring.
“The facility will be used to train fire fighters,” Baker said. It will have a fire room and a number of other training rooms so that firefighters in the training schedule won’t have to standby while one training session is going on. “We will keep people moving instead of people standing around.”
There will be three levels. The second level will have a lot of nozzle work and team work exercises. “There will be multiple opportunities to use burn boxes. There will also be a burn operator who will control the environment.”
The third level will be used as a roof prop to train firefighters balcony rescues.
“We are still on budget,” said Baker. “We are pretty excited also.”
“We will build it and you can use it,” Baker told District 7 administration and commissioners. He hopes to have it up and running by the end of summer with a cadre of training officers. “All of the officers will have to go through training too.”
Chelan 7 Badge Pinning:
Chief Brandon Asher pinned two new firefighters; Stephanie Preheim and William Steady. After swearing them in he told the Commissioners that the District was now fully staffed.
Chief Asher’s report:
Asher reported that the District ended financially at 106% of what was budgeted.
He told the commissioners that overtime was being tracked and that OT has been reduced over the prior year with three firefighters on board 24/7 instead of two. “We are much better that where we started last year,” stated Asher.
January saw 64 calls of which 77% was EMS. “We had no major incidents in January.”
Commissioner Russ Jones asked about illegal burns and Asher replied that they were given warnings. One burn was in Chelan Falls.
The District passed its annual audit without any issues. The cost was $12,963. “That was $1,000 less than we budgeted.”
Fire District classification ratings improved throughout the district with the exception of Station 75 on the South Shore. Everything within a five mile radius of Chelan has moved from a Class 6 to a 5. This could be beneficial for homeowners home insurance being reduced. Chief Asher sent out the following press release explaining the changes. “Hopefully it will help out a lot of people.” However insurance costs are increasing also but Asher stated that the department is better prepared for any emergencies that might arise.
CHELAN FIRE AND RESCUE FIRE PROTECTION CLASSIFICATION IMPROVES
Chelan Fire and Rescue is pleased to announce that residents and business owners in the city limits of Chelan will improve from a fire protection classification of 6 to a 5. Residents living in the County within 5 miles of Station 71 (Downtown Chelan) and in an area with hydrants (ex: Chelan Falls) will improve from a 7 to a 6. Residents within 5 miles of Station 73 (Union Valley) will improve from an 8 to a 7. Unfortunately, due to a decrease in volunteers, the residents at Station 75 (South Lakeshore) will move from a 7 to a 9. Therefore, we need 2 additional Volunteers to maintain the current protection class for Station 75! Interested Volunteers can find applications at www.chelan7.com .
So what does this mean for you? If your insurance providers use the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau (WSRB) fire protection classification ratings, you can call your provider after June 1 st and potentially get a lower insurance rate on your home or business insurance. It also means that your Fire Department is better staffed and equipped than before to serve you. This is all thanks to your support! As our community grows, Chelan Fire and Rescue is committed to providing you with the highest level of service.
The District now has a complete contact list for all emergency responders.
Chief Asher said that they now have a draft application for a Volunteer Coordinator position. The department also put out the word that they are seeking to fill this year’s seasonal positions. “We haven’t received one phone call,” said Asher. “I hope somebody will step up and do it.”
Three volunteers are in the Wenatchee Fire Academy. “It is an all around smaller class this year.”
Annual maintenance is being performed on all the district’s apparatus to get it ready for this year’s fire season.
Department of Natural Resources:
The DNR is awarding $7,000 to 25 different fire departments. “There is a lot of funding out there.
The Department has put down $5,000 to get on a list for a new type 3 fire unit which will probably not be available until 2025.
With only three volunteers currently at Station 75, Asher has decided to leave the water truck at that location because of its ability to put a lot of water out quickly.
New flooring will be installed at Station 71 beginning on March 27.
Assistant Chief report:
Assistant Chief Shaun Sherman reported that three members are in training at the Fire Academy in Wenatchee.
With costs to outfit a firefighter with bunker gear at $7,000 the department is being very careful with purchasing bunker gear for a firefighter it they are not going be in the area for at least 10 months.
Commissioner Phil Moller said that there has to be something else than an individual just wanting to be a volunteer. “The need more skin in the game,” he said. Sherman replied, “I hear you. We are taking a more holistic approach to training.”
“It’s hard to believe we are at another rate and fee study,” said Public Works Director Jake Youngren. “But we are here.” The Rare and Fee Study helps the city build equitable rate costs.
The study will include the following:
Task 1: Initial Project Meeting Task 2: Data Collection & Validation Task 3: Customer Data Validation Task 4: Revenue Requirement Task 5: Cost of Service Task 6: Rate Design Task 7: General Facility Charge Update Task 8: Meetings & Presentations Task 9: Documentation.
The Council authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute the Professional Services Agreement with FCS Group for an estimated cost of $92,126. “It is a time and materials agreement and it is in our Capital Improvements budget,” said Youngren. He added that the rate studies are built on fairly conservative numbers.
Chelan Downtown Revitalization Project
The Council has also authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute a Professional Services Agreement with Beckwith Consulting Group for the Downtown Revitalization Project.
The City will enter into another time and materials agreement for an estimated cost of $121,585. “The HDCA has the funds for this project,” said Youngren. Task 2 and Task 3 are the two components of the agreement that will determine the plans and design alternatives.
Task 1: Initiate Project · Task 1a: Review Background information and plans · Task 1b: Conduct scoping workshop · Task 1c: Conduct council workshop Task 2: Assess Conditions/Develop Site Plans · Task 2a: Assess site conditions · Task 2b: Surveys/interviews/Workshops/Property and business owner survey and interviews · Task 2c: Evaluate safety and maintenance · Task 2d: Conduct workshop with event organizers · Task 2e: Document findings · Task 2f: Conduct open house · Task 2g: Council selects site plan Task 3: Develop Design Alternatives · Task 3a: Develop design alternatives · Task 3b: Document design palette alternatives · Task 3c: Conduct open house · Task 3d: Refine design palette alternatives · Task 3e: Council selects design palette Task 4: Develop Implementation Strategy · Task 4a: Evaluate financing options · Task 4b: Document financing options · Task 4c: Conduct open house · Task 4d: survey previous respondents option · Task 4e: Council selects financing plan Task 5: Complete Bid Documents · Task 5a: Complete bid documents · Task 5b: Finalize bid documents
State Route 150 Sewer Replacement
Public Works Director Youngren told the Council that the proposed sewer line replacement project is in the City’s Comprehensive Plan and is budgeted.
“It needs to be upsized,” said Youngren. “It’s a pretty critical piece of infrastructure.” The project is intended to remedy sewer collection system capacity issues and calls for a replacing the current 16 inch main with a 21 inch main.
Peter Jamtgaard asked it the project included effluent from Manson. Youngren replied that the Lake Chelan Reclamation District is a partner in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan.
RH2 Engineering will conduct the design services for this project not to exceed $50,000. The Council authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute the agreement.
Mayor Goedde is working on adding one more percent to the lodging tax which would add another estimated $400,000 a year to the Chelan coffers. “It would supply some of our funding for our tourism needs.”
Public Works Director Jake Youngren is participating on a regional trails committee and told the Council that it’s that time of the year when representatives are looking for project recommendations.
He stated that the Northshore Pathway from Manson to Chelan might be able to get a start with a project from Big Horn Avenue to Riviera Drive at a cost of $2.6 million with a $200,000 match. There will be approximately $40 million available for trails and Chelan, because of its Comprehensive Trail Plan and old Northshore plans, could be in line for more funding. “We are shovel ready where other jurisdictions are not,” he said. “Our alignment is picked and we are in a really good spot.”
The Northshore Trail from Manson to Chelan hasn’t been totally evaluated yet. “There is a good amount of money coming from the Federal government,” stated Youngren.
Tax Increment Financing: Bob Stowe of Stowe Development & Strategies gave City Council members, administration and staff a project analysis presentation on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that the City is planning to implement to construct the $9 million one million gallon East Chelan Reservoir and Booster Pump Station; the $3.5 Bradley St. Water Main extension from the reservoir; and the $561,000 Isenhart Watermain extension. This TIF would potentially fund $16 million of the $18.25 million estimated costs.
“It is simply a redirection of property taxes,” said Stowe. “One way to look at it (TIFs) is that it provides funding support for infrastructure.”
TIF’s are not a new tax, but a powerful economic development tool available to cities, counties, and port districts. The taxes from the TIF Development Fund has no impact on individual property owners.
The proposed TIF will provide funding to support needed infrastructure in East Chelan that will benefit all of Chelan during emergency water shortage situations.
Prior to instigating the TIF, the City will conduct two public briefings.
City Council members had questions on the project analysis. Mark Ericks asked what happens if a development fails. “This is an issue,” said Stowe. “You need a financial backstop with the developers.”
Peter Jamtgaard remarked that he is concerned about an unstable economy. “Things could go wrong… you said we could get an extension.” Stowe stated that a mitigation plan needs to be in place on how the debt would be re-payed. “You would have to look at utility rates and general funds.”
Tim Hollingsworth asked if the City meets the requirements and Stowe stated that once the City receives enough revenue from the TIF to pay off the debt, the TIF would expire.
“When it is all said and done, you get all of your money back.” The City will go out for a bond issue based on its general resources and the TIF will presumably pay for it.
A public briefing will be held in March on this issue.
Lodging Tax Presentation:
City Finance Director Jackie Tupling opened a presentation on Lodging Taxes distributing a Revenue Guide for Washington Cities and Towns and then introduced two representatives – Steve Gross, MRSC Legal Consultant and Eric Lowell – a MRSC Finance Consultant from the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) who went through a presentation webinar on what can be funded with Lodging Tax funds.
MRSC helps local governments for independent and reliable guidance on all topics of interest to cities and towns.
An emerging issue in the City of Chelan is how the City may use lodging tax funds beyond tourism marketing.
In December, the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce requested $700,000 from lodging tax revenues to continue marketing the Chelan tourism economy.
John Olson, a council member, has been very concerned about the City’s aging infrastructure which he says visitors and tourists affect when they visit. He requested that the Chamber give $400,000 of the requested $700,000 for infrastructure upgrades. This didn’t sit well with Michael Steele, executive director of the Chamber and a number of resort owners and service businesses who rely on visitors to help maintain a year-round profit.
With John’s request, the City Council voted to extend the Chamber’s contract by one year and to give them the $700,000, but agreed that a committee is needed to explore options and to write a new contract for the Chamber with strict reporting requirements, that up until now haven’t been adhered to.
Erin McCardle suggested that the City needs a long range plan for tourism situation. “We (the city) don’t have an economic development plan,” said McCardle. “We need to have a plan.”
Tim Hollingsworth feels that the Council needs to sit around a table and discuss how the Chamber and the City has a strategy of how funding is to be used. They need guidelines.”
The City Budget shows that beginning cash on hand from both the 2% and 3% lodging tax ended with $3,802,879 in 2022.
Lodging Tax History:
Originally, the State collected a 2% lodging tax to help pay for the Kingdome. When that debt was paid off, Cities requested that the 2% tax be allocated to them for tourism related capital projects.
In 1997, after disbursing 2% funding for City projects, including $650,000 for the construction of the Performing Art Center at Chelan High School, the City allocated 80% of the 2% collections to the Chamber in support of the Visitor Information Center to pay for a 1-800 line and postage for distribution of tourist information and community/media relation activities to help enhance the tourism industry.
In July, of 1997, the City began receiving a total of 5% on the sale of motel/resort rooms. In 2004 the Chamber and City entered into a four year agreement to provided the Chamber full use of the 3% funding.
In 2008, the agreement was extended for five years with minor modifications to set aside a portion of those funds to build a reserve fund that could be used for downturns in the economy.
Today, the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce is receiving $700,000 for 2023, after which a new amended contract will be proffered and an oversight committee will installed.
The argument concerning the expenditure of $700,000 in marketing is that Chelan has been discovered and is now the recipient of more visitors than it can handle. In addition, Chelan’s infrastructure is in need of updating, including tourism related amenities.
The decisions over how to market the Valley will be made in the near future. With the rules changing on how lodging tax money can be used, it will be interesting to see if some of that funding is funneled into programs directly related to the tourism industry, i.e. funding for better Marine Patrol activities.