ILWACO — Lead contamination, the Sahalee project and the mayor’s annual report were major focuses at Ilwaco City Council’s Jan. 28 meeting.

Ilwaco City Council’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11. A council workshop on the city’s Growth Management Act will be held at 4 p.m. Both the workshop and meeting are open to the public at the city’s community room, 158 First Avenue North.

Lead workshop

Councilors and residents attended a city workshop on lead. The city’s water department was notified in October 2018 that August 2018 water samples exceeded lead action levels.

The exceeding samples were found in three older houses. After additional testing, only one home’s lead levels are of concern, according to the city’s water supervisor Rick Gray.

The lead levels of concern were found only within the three homes, which are older. No lead levels of concern were found in any of the city’s distribution system or reservoir sites, Gray said.

Homes built before 1986 are of concern for lead levels because the materials used. The city regularly tests for lead, as well as many other things in the water.

Mayor Forner’s report

Mayor Gary Forner provided an annual report on how his first year as mayor went and where he hopes the city goes in the future.

“I am asking this council, the planning commission and the citizens of Ilwaco to help make Ilwaco a resilient city and to contribute to improving the environment,” Forner said.

Forner’s suggestions on how to improve the city include changing building codes; encouraging use of solar panels; encouraging use of permeable roads and sidewalk surfaces; encouraging planting trees and other plants; and designating low-elevation areas as areas threatened by sea level rise.

“Ilwaco could end up being an island surrounded on all sides by water, devoid of a fishing fleet and processing facilities,” Forner said. “This may not happen in your lifetime but with the high probability it will happen in your child’s lifetime and surely your grandchild’s lifetime.”

The city’s 2019 projects will include: the Whealdon Road waterline realignment project; a city park renovation dedication; the Baker Bay stormwater infiltration project along Howerton Way; timber harvesting at the Indian Creek Reservoir; and paving Ortelius Lane.

“As a society, we have debated the global warming pros and cons and listened to the deniers’ falsification and their refusal to believe,” Forner said. “The truth is knocking on our door and we will regret not starting to save this environment sooner. It is time for all of us to do something to help save the environment.”

Indian Creek Dam

Councilors approved a contract between the city and Gray & Osborne. The contract is for geotechnical services at the Indian Creek Dam, which impounds the city’s water supply.

The state’s Department of Ecology rated the dam as poor in a March 2018 inspection. The department gave the city a list of required tasks to improve the dam’s conditions, such as installing a drainage system.

Gray & Osborne recommended contracting with PanGeo, which will work with Gray & Osborne and the city. The project will cost the city $62,234.

Planning Commission Chair Jon Chambreau suggested the council look into the DOE’s recommendations more in-depth and as the project moves forward. Councilor Jared Oakes asked Chambreau to send his concerns in writing to the city so the city can get specific answers.

Sahalee project

Councilors approved what should be the last change order for the Sahalee neighborhood project. The project is essentially completed, except for some seeding that will happen in the spring.

The change order included a $42,253 contract increase. It primarily covered drainage, as well as the project’s last touches.

Councilors approved another Sahalee change order at the council’s Jan. 22 special meeting. The change order increased the city’s contract with Big River Excavating by $56,337 at the time. This change order covered changes and upgrades to the neighborhood’s water system.

High school parking

Ilwaco Fire Chief Tom Williams raised concerns about parking at Ilwaco High School.

“Parking at the high school is out of control,” Williams said. “People park wherever they want.”

Williams emphasized the importance of keeping space open for emergency vehicles in the school’s parking lot, as there’s often barely room for an ambulance to park.

Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright told Williams and the council he’d contact the school to see what can be done about parking violations at the school.

Other business

Councilors approved a contract renewal between the city and its attorney Joshua Stellmon. Stellmon’s contract expired on Dec. 31.

In 2018, the city spent $19,527 on Stellmon’s services. The city budgeted $20,000.

Councilors approved a resolution updating the Mayor Pro Tempore bank account. The change was required because Councilor Missy Bageant was chosen to serve as the city’s Mayor Pro Tempore for 2019. Councilor Matt Lessnau served in the role for 2018. Councilors serve one-year commitments.

Dr. Dave Cundiff praised the work of all involved in the Sahalee project, as they “have really tried to get the job done as well as possible and with as little distractions as possible.”

Cundiff also asked the council to revisit the city’s decision on allowing vacation rentals, as he doesn’t want to see vacation rentals in “high-resiliency areas” such as the Sahalee neighborhood.

Jenna Austin, who owns Queen La De Da’s in Ilwaco, announced the business is moving to Long Beach. Austin encouraged the public to attend the Ilwaco Merchants Association meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or

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