ILWACO - Fixing Ilwaco's water system topped the agenda at a workshop before the Ilwaco City Council meeting Monday, but much of the discussion remains secret after members of the public were barred from the meeting when they arrived at the council's normal meeting time.
City council members, the city's engineers Gray & Osborne and representatives of the state Department of Health discussed issues with the city's water plant and reviewed recommendations made by a private consulting firm for putting the system on the right track.
Before the regular council meeting began at 6 p.m., members of the public attempting to enter the council chambers were told by City Councilman Fred Marshall that the meeting was at that point private and they would have to wait outside. Before the council meeting began, Marshall and Mayor Doug Hubbard said that an executive session had been asked for during the workshop.
Questions were raised about the legality of excluding the public from an unannounced executive session because, according to state law, members of the public may not be denied access to a publicly posted meeting or workshop.
State law also demands that the purpose of an executive session must be announced before it's convened by the presiding officer and include the length of time the session will last.
But the law also states that if the people in the meeting are advised of the executive session, people entering the meeting after the announcement do not need to be told of the session.
The mayor and members of the council apologized Tuesday for the abrupt ejections from the workshop.
"It could have been done smoother," Marshall said.
"We weren't aware it wasn't legal and still don't know that it wasn't," Hubbard said. "If it wasn't legal, it won't happen again. It probably could have been handled better. Our intent is to abide by the law."
City Councilman Mike Cassinelli said he "wasn't paying attention. We should have waited for the regular council meeting and called an executive session then. I will personally apologize to the citizens of the town at the next City Council meeting."
During the City Council meeting, members approved water quality goals for the city. Marshall said the approval "was a very important move by the council to set the tone for what transpires hereafter in the operation of the city's water system. We're saying we endorse and expect very high standards to be established. The state has an optimization program which sets goals and this is very much in line with that."
In other business:
The council heard a presentation by Jenna Austin Nisbett on the arrival in May of the Tall Ships at the Port of Ilwaco. She requested $1,000 from the city for two banners and several small signs, which was approved.
The council approved a change order for the Phase 2 I&I project and also approved the completed project.