Winstanley says $1 million agreement is only a sample; Larson concursSEASIDE - Mayor Don Larson and City Manager Mark Winstanley of Seaside denied the city would be on the hook for more than $1 million if the vote on the U.S. Highway 101 project passes May 17.
Within Exhibit B of the intergovernmental agreement is a declaration that "The city of Seaside also will contribute $1 million to pave adjoining streets to assist in construction staging of the project." Concerned citizen Bruce Smith brought this to the attention of the City Council Monday.
However, Winstanley pointed out the main body of the agreement says, "City and ODOT agree to work cooperatively to develop an Access Management Strategy, similar to Exhibit B." He said Exhibit B was only a sample.
"It's not specifically signed to obligate that million dollars at all," Larson said. He confirmed he has previously said the city would pay only $164,000 in utility-moving costs.
Smith was not convinced. He pointed out that the agreement specifically says it is the only agreement between the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation,
"It's the only example we have," he said. "The only exhibit we have right now for voters to vote on is that exhibit."
Smith said until the exhibit changes, he believes the city is liable for $1 million.
"And if not $1 million, what will it be?" he asked.
If the referendum does not pass May 17, the disputed intergovernmental agreement will not go into effect. ODOT's plan is to expand the highway to five lanes, with a center median in places and a turn lane in others, and to add a one-way couplet to the south of town. Friends of Seaside, a group that opposes the project, sued to allow residents to vote.
The highway project was not on the agenda at the City Council meeting, but it was on the minds of many. Several other residents testified about the project during public comment.
Bob Stevens told the council the rumors of no Planning Commission involvement in the plan were untrue. He pointed out that Planning Director Kevin Cupples is a member of the design review team, which has worked on the design for more than a year. Larson agreed with Stevens.
Rod Shutt criticized Councilors Diana Schafer and Don McKay for their position opposing the project. He said because the council's Nov. 22 vote was in favor of the agreement, Schafer and McKay should not have spoken out against it.McKay said he has not criticized any elected official to the media. He said a large part of his platform campaigning for councilor involved opposing the project, and he said he has a responsibility to his constituents.
Dave Langlo testified about a car accident where a vehicle crashed through a house Friday on Wahanna Road. Langlo advocates reduced speed limits, more police enforcement and sidewalks and other improvements to Wahanna.
"We need help, and we don't need to wait until that highway (is built)," he said. "We need it now."
The council's scheduled business included:
A presentation from Darci Connor, Seaside's tsunami outreach coordinator. Connor thanked the fire and police departments, ODOT, the Red Cross, ham radio operators and Sunset Empire Transportation for their help with the April 16 tsunami drill, where 436 people practiced evacuating. "These kind of partnerships are how I think you can continue this kind of drill," she said.
Connor said it was not a major concern that some people could not hear the warning siren. She said a distant-event tsunami leaves the city with at least four hours to prepare, and plenty of time to warn residents. With a near-event tsunami, caused by a local earthquake of 8.5 degrees or more, the earthquake will be all the warning needed, she said. She did say the city should improve signs on some evacuation routes so people will know which way to go.
Eighth-grade students Lindsey Wolfe and Chasey Sacchetta informed the council of their wish to chalk statistics of teen alcohol use on the pavement downtown May 21 and stand at the Turnaround with signs reading "Honk if you're alcohol-free." The girls said their goal was to foster discussions about alcohol use in teenagers. Jill River, who is working with the students, said they are the youngest group to get a grant from the Oregon Partnership. While River and Meghan Houston helped the students, River emphasized they wrote the proposal in their own words. City Manager Mark Winstanley said the demonstration would be no problem.
Cindy Mudge presented an update on the Corps of Discovery Two traveling exhibit, a "national park on wheels" which includes a portable auditorium, keel boat, dugout canoe and teepee. The exhibit will be in Seaside from Nov. 19 to 22. Mudge said the local area will be responsible for one-third of the presentations to school groups and families. The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Association is raising money for that, she said. Donations are also accepted at http://www.seasidecorpsii.com
Assistant City Manager Trish Downey reported on contract negotiation with the Seaside Police Department, which included some changes in benefits, a cost-of-living increase, and plans for future increases in wages. The Council approved the changes unanimously.
The Council unanimously approved changes to the Evergreen Cemetery regulations to allow staff to clean up withered floral arrangements and set standards for items placed on or near graves.
Applications are available at City Hall for the vacancies on the Marketing Committee, City Tree Board, Community Center and Senior Commission, Public Safety Committee, Promotions Committee and Airport Committee. Applications will be accepted for all committees until May 31.