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Buckley council agrees to continue "multi-use" process

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Despite the objections of one councilman, the Buckley City Council seems committed to continue with the multi-use/skateboard park project.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, the Buckley City Council voted 6-1, with Councilman Norm Irons dissenting, to give city staff the authority to take further steps to secure the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation grant.

City Administrator Dave Schmidt told the council, the IAC will make its final determination on grant funding on July 10 and wants a tentative project schedule from Buckley staff on the park project. Schmidt told council members he needed to know if they were interested in moving ahead with the project before that step is taken.

Irons' objections stemmed from the cost to the city. The total park project, including the skateboard park portion, is a little more than $470,000. The grant pays for almost $235,000, with Buckley providing the 50 percent match. Buckley has already budgeted a little more than $100,000 for their half but still has to budget about $130,000.

Irons, who said he is not against the project, wants to know where that money is going to come from and how much it will cost to maintain the park after it's built.

"It's just dollars. I'm not opposed to the skateboard park" he said, adding he was opposed to not knowing if the city can afford the project.

Councilwoman Pat Johnson pointed out that some of the money was coming from other sources, and it wasn't entirely Buckley's burden.

"If we were going to bail, then we should have bailed before we applied for the grant," she said.

Councilman Kim Walthers said he, too, would be opposed to the project if it was just for a skateboard park, but if the city stays true to the design, then Buckley will have a great multi-use facility.

He said while a decision hasn't been made on it yet, it is a possibility a new Youth Activity Center could be built next to the park. He said if the council approves that plan, some of the $200,000 grant funds the Youth Activity Center was awarded recently could go toward defraying some of the costs of the skateboard park, such as helping with paving costs if the two facilities were going to share a parking lot.

Schmidt said even though the expense of the project is great, the money is going to be spent on a lot more than just a skateboard park.

Costs will go toward the skateboarding facility, picnic areas, a kiosk, playground equipment, parking, frontage costs and landscaping.

"The city gets a lot of bang for their buck with that project," he said.

Schmidt said if everything goes as planned, the facility could be completed by Sept. 1 of next year.

In other news the Council:

€ gave Mayor John Blanusa and Schmidt the authority to possibly lock into a long-term agreement for natural gas, assuming the rate is in the right price range. The city's contract for purchasing natural gas is due, and the city is looking at its options. During the meeting, council members discussed the possibility of having to raise natural gas rates, but were reluctant to enter into a long-term agreement that would raise the rates more than 10 percent. Schmidt said if the city can lock into an agreement during a low swing on the natural gas market, rates may not have to be raised at all. He said the council didn't want to lock into a price that would be too high, just to lock into an agreement, but didn't want to be left buying natural gas on the open market when it looks like there could be a potential shortage come winter and have to raise rates even more.

€ was informed by Schmidt the city was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields grant to clean up the contaminated soil next to the post office, although he was not sure when the money would become available. The grant is for $51,800, and the city has to provide a 20 percent match.

€ amended an ordinance recently passed related to cross-connection control and backflow prevention in compliance with Washington State Department of Health regulations. A paragraph, which was inadvertently left out, was added.

€ approved a farm animal permit for Buckley resident Donna Love-Key, so she can own a horse on her property on Collins Road.

€ approved a paving contract with Sealtech for the amount of $5,917 to complete Buckley's 2003 asphalt patching project.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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