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Buckley council backtracks on project

The Courier-Herald

Collins Road may not be repaved this year despite promises made to residents by Buckley City Council members last year.

At the June 10 City Council meeting, Councilwoman Jan Twardoski said the recommendation of the council's Street, Sidewalk and Storm Committee was that Collins Road not be repaved, at least not until the sewer and water mains were replaced. Committee members are Twardoski, Norm Irons and Marilyn Gregg.

Irons and Gregg, along with Mayor John Blanusa, were absent from the meeting.

The decision was contrary to what the council decided last year, after Collins Road residents questioned when their road would be repaved.

The overlay paving project for Collins Road, from Spruce to McNeely streets, was halted in June 2002 after then-public utilities superintendent Bob Sutphin pointed out a 60-year-old water main and sewer line un-der the road had to be replaced; he questioned the wisdom of spending $50,000 to put down a new road surface only to tear it up again. The council then gave City Administrator Dave Schmidt one year to obtain funding to replace the sewer and water main underneath Collins Road; if he was unable to come up the money, the city would repave Collins Road, the council said.

Schmidt said grant funding for sewer projects is not available. He also looked at whether the city could pay for some of the needed repairs, but the cost just to replace 1,000 feet of sewer line, not even the total amount, was $190,000; that is cost-prohibitive, given the city's budget. The two utility lines still need to be replaced, and repaving Collins Road now would mean tearing it up once the city can fund the water and sewer line improvements.

After reviewing the issue, Twardoski said the committee didn't think it was a good idea to spend $50,000 to repave a road that has few problems, especially when it will just have to be torn up later.

Twardoski acknowledged the city made a promise, but she can't see the point in replacing the road now. "To me it's just a waste of money," she said.

Councilwoman Pat Johnson asked Schmidt how long it could take before the sewer and water lines were replaced, and he said it could be anywhere from five to 10 years.

Johnson said if it was going to be up to 10 years, then maybe the city should honor its promise and repave the road.

After the meeting, Schmidt said replacing the water and sewer lines could take so long because there are no funds to do the job right now, and the Collins Road project is not the city's highest sewer priority. He said the committee took into consideration the fairness of repaving Collins Road, despite the promise, when there are two or three other streets in the city in far worse condition.

Schmidt said even if the sewer and water lines aren't replaced for five to 10 years, Collins Road, even with its rough spots, could last up to 20 years, with proper drainage.

"That was one of their concerns - being accountable to the rest of the citizens of the community," Schmidt said.

During the meeting, Schmidt was directed to prepare letters to all property owners abutting Collins Road, informing them of the committee recommendation and giving them a chance to respond.

Schmidt said the recommendation will probably make a few homeowners on Collins Road unhappy. And while he said he thinks council members are unhappy about breaking their promise, they are only doing so because they feel it's absolutely necessary.

"I think at this point (the council is) trying to do the right thing, and I think that's important," Schmidt said.

In other news, the City Council:

€ passed an ordinance modifying the distribution system for sewer connections returned to the city and establishing guidelines governing the allocated, unused connections.

€ amended a denial from Buckley's Architectural Review Board for the owners of Rare Earth Inc., who wished to replace an existing sign at their business at 861 Main Street with their own sign. The Architectural Review Board said the the sign didn't meet certain standards. The Council decided the Rare Earth sign would meet city standards and fit the city's plan for the downtown area if a reader board is removed.

€ approved amending the jail service agreement between Buckley and the city of Lacey.

€ authorized the carnival to set up in conjunction with the Buckley Log Show.

€ heard Councilwoman Pat Johnson announce that the state's Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation has contacted city officials, letting them know Buckley will probably receive its skateboard park grant, pending Gov. Gary Locke signing the bill.

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