News

Buckley takes first step in negotiations over water rights

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

The city of Buckley has taken the first step to negotiate with the Department of Ecology over the city's water rights, but city officials are close-lipped about the deal they're hoping to strike.

The City Council returned from executive session during a Sept. 23 meeting and voted to authorize the mayor and city administrator to propose a settlement - some of which included corrections to the errors in the water rights - to the DOE.

City Administrator Dave Schmidt said the exact proposal the city made is not open for public knowledge because it could hurt the city's negotiating position. DOE has not heard the city's proposal yet, and the city doesn't want to weaken its bargaining ability.

"There's some legal issues, so we've been advised at this point not to (speak)," Schmidt said.

The city decided to appeal a decision by Ecology in April after the application to expand the city's water rights was rejected.

Schmidt said when the appeal was first brought forth, the city claimed there had been errors made by DOE during a previous water rights settlement, and DOE told the city to provide arguments, documentation and evidence supporting its claim. Some of the current proposal addressed those errors and what can be done to correct them.

In other business, the Buckley City Council:

€ voted to postpone the October sewer connection lottery until January, 2004 due to an uncompleted general facility charge study.

€ approved the facts and findings of the White River Ridge Subdivision and approved a 30-day extension of the existing sewer agreement between Sue Hahto and the city of Buckley until the appeal period of the White River Ridge preliminary plat approval is completed. The notice of decision was posted Sept. 24, and people have 21 days to challenge the decision through judicial action.

€ approved a request by the Buckley Chamber of Commerce to close River Avenue from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 11 for the Autumn Harvest Festival. Council members refused, however, to close Main Street during those hours until they receive notice that each business owner affected by the street's closure is in favor of the decision. Council members were concerned that closing Main Street would seriously hamper shop owners' chances to do business.

€ approved the purchase of playground equipment for the Mountain View Avenue tot lot for an amount not to exceed $5,500. The current playground equipment has been deemed dangerous and in need of replacement.

€ declared two gas ovens from the senior center as surplus and authorized their sale or donation to a public agency.

€ approved contract management services with Gray & Osborne Inc. for $23,500 for half-time inspections of the Ryan Road Water Main Project.

€ extended the state contract for fuel and natural gas for Rainier School for a one-year period.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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