ILWACO - Faced with a $60,000 bill for removing old gas tanks under Lake Street and a more than $26,000 overrun in the budget for the First and Howerton project, the Ilwaco City Council discussed at length ways to fix the problems Monday night. Council members David Fritts and Doug Hubbard didn't attend the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ilwaco Planning Commission Chair Fred Marshall announced there is still a vacant spot on the commission. People interested in filling the slot vacated by Les Swensen should call Ilwaco City Hall at 642-3145.

Marshall also reported that the commission is considering forming a design review board and asked that the city's planner, Skip Urling, send copies of public notices to the commission before publishing them in the newspaper.

Slated for a decision by the council on Monday's agenda were cuts to the First and Howerton project. The city is currently more than $26,000 over budget on the project and has had ongoing discussions on how to make up the difference.

"We're in the hole primarily because of unexpected repairs to aging sewer lines and because of problems with previous work on the system by Pape [the contractor on the project]," Mayor Ed Leonard said Tuesday. "We're paying for it now." Add to that the unexpected expense of removing six old fuel tanks buried under Lake Street that were discovered during excavation for the new sewer lines, amounting to $60,000. "That puts us $86,000 in the hole," he said. "Someone's got to pay for it. It's a massive problem."

Leonard said contingency funds available to the city for street repairs for the year are $21,000. "You do the math," he said.

The property owners adjacent to the tanks normally would be charged for their removal by putting a lien on the property that would be repaid when the property is sold. But that could be far in the future. "So the city has to pay up front," Leonard said.

The council discussed a number of items to be removed from the First and Howerton project including ground cover, trees, painted traffic lines and a bicycle symbol, a plastic traffic arrow and root barriers which would amount to $13,172.

Leonard said there are two potential sources of funds to take up the slack. One is the new street lights to be placed on First Street amounting to $57,500. "I could hold off ordering the lights until the contract is closed and we know how much money we need," he said. "Then I can order them and have the city crew install them but that still doesn't solve the problem."

"That's a reasonable approach," Councilman David Jensen remarked.

The mayor then suggested using the $40,000 targeted for street repairs in the Sahalee area. "The streets in Sahalee aren't any worse than any other streets in town," Leonard said, "with the exception of Nesadi." The mayor's home is on Nesadi Street. He said problems with his street could be temporarily fixed by the city crew until funds are available for a permanent fix.

The $97,000 slated for the street lights and the Sahalee street repair "would be enough to finish the project and we won't end up owing money or being sued, which would be terribly embarrassing," Leonard said. "It's important to stay within the budget," he said. "If it works out, then we can spend money on the street lights."

The council approved removing the five items from the project and to hold off on ordering street lights and repairing Sahalee streets. "This will give us enough to continue paying our bills," Leonard said. "I fully expect we will have street lights. There will just be a bit of delay. I know it's a radical measure, but we have to pay our way."

The council then turned to discussion of a draft noise ordinance for the city prepared by council members David Jensen and Victoria Stoppiello. The ordinance became necessary when several people who live near the Port of Ilwaco began complaining about the noise from fish processing equipment and refrigerator trucks parked at the port that, during the fishing seasons, run all night.

Jensen and Stoppiello discovered while drafting the ordinance that policing decibel levels in the area would be difficult to enforce. "This would be very expensive to enforce," Stoppiello said. "It needs to be discussed with the whole council." Jensen emphasized that the ordinance is "not a completed document. It's not ready for a vote."

Marshall recommended using objective measures for the ordinance, rather than subjective. "For example, if someone's playing a bass drum for 30 seconds or for 30 days, there's no difference. It's a matter of degree." He also noted that noises from boats were not on the list of exclusions from the ordinance. "They should be excluded," he said.

Harry Dunlap, who lives across from the port's boat repair yard, said somone recently had a compressor running night and day for four days. "I've lived here for years and I don't like it," he said. Stoppiello said that port Harbormaster Jamie Sowers was diligent in asking people working in the boat yard to keep noise to a minimum or to move away from residences.

"What do you want us to do?" Jim Stiebritz, owner of Sunrise Seafoods at the port, asked the council. "I spent $40,000 last year on equipment to replace the generators. We're willing to work with the city on this." Doug Ross, representing Jessie's Ilwaco Fish Co., also commented on the ordinance.

Council member Shirley Burt remarked "I won't vote for an ordinance that affects the port."

The noise ordinance, along with discussion on moving council meetings to Tuesday nights, will continue at the next council meeting March 24 when the full council will be on board.

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