Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

Waitsburg gains splash pad, loses surplus sale

WAITSBURG—Waitsburg City Council gathered for a regular meeting on Wednesday, June 15. All council members were present.

Joy Smith commented on a report she shared with the council before the meeting. The report had information regarding employment in the area, housing prices, and local effects of inflation.

The noon whistle was brought up by a community member who asked if the city would consider bringing it back. The siren had been operated by Columbia County EMS, who had requested to end the practice several years ago.

Mayor Marty Dunn said he would explore options to bring the siren back. After discussion, it was determined that the control could be wired to the fire station if needed.

Councilmember Randy Charles had heard concerns from building owners downtown about the impact the siren could have on residents, renters, and hotel visitors on Main Street.

A second payment application was approved for the splash pad and play surface project at Preston Park. The splash pad has been completed, is operational, and put to use by many of the younger residents. The second payment was $45,577.22, adding to the previous payment of $59.009.99. Hinchliffe estimates an additional $1,700 payment next month to close the total invoice.

Council members voted to extend the pool pass reimbursement program for residents through July 15, 2022. In 2021, the city voted to reimburse 50% of the cost of family passes for Walla Walla and Prescott pools, not to exceed $160.00 for residents. If you have purchased a pool pass at a neighboring pool, take your receipt to City Hall.

Council members discussed a proposal to install stream gauges on the Touchet and Coppei rivers. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) would split the cost of the equipment with the city and cover the cost of unit installation. The city would be responsible for operating costs, estimated to cost $9,090 for the six-month period the gauges are monitored each year. In an email to The Times, Hinchliffe estimated the city’s cost for the pair of guages would would be around $25,000. Hinchliffe said that costs would be covered by the flood tax implemented last year.

The city was unable to obtain access approval from all the property owners, including the State of Washington, needed to progress with a levee repair project along the Touchet River. The council approved a resolution that acknowledged the city did not currently have sufficient access to the levee to perform repairs but still intended to repair the levee if the access could be obtained.

Those looking to purchase a historic property on Waitsburg’s Main Street may have another chance after the sale of the former City Hall fell through. The city does not need to hold a public hearing to proceed with the surplus sale of the building, having held one at the end of 2021. According to Hinchliffe, buyer Randy Hallowell called off the sale after his partners no longer wished to provide the money for renovations. The council will revisit the topic in September.

The library board of trustees had a small financial question regarding money potentially being put in the incorrect fund. Mayor Dunn had attended the board’s meeting on June 14, when they went over papers received in a Public Information request, but board members expressed that they would like to have the money put in the M&I library fund following any future donations.

Ordinance 2022-1077 was passed, allowing the city to ban fireworks during times of extreme fire danger, similar to the drought conditions in 2021. Councilmembers all expressed concerns on how any future bans would be enforced. The ban will take one year to become effective.


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