Sharp criticism of the city’s lack of a stance on crude by rail and repair and repaving approvals punctuated the Aberdeen City Council meeting Wednesday night.
Sylvia and Mike Dickerson, founders of the civic group Our Aberdeen, roasted city officials for not filing a comment in the recent Environmental Impact Statement scoping process about proposed crude oil shipping facilities on Grays Harbor by Imperium Renewables and Westway Terminal Co. The oil would be shipped by rail. Aberdeen has seen two derailments of grain trains in the city recent weeks, as well as others in East County and the Centralia area.
“In the 22,253 scoping comments, the city is conspicuously absent,” said Sylvia Dickerson, who added she is “dismayed by the disconnect … It is your responsibility to listen to us and protect our interests.”
“You will be remembered for what you didn’t do,” she added.
Mayor Bill Simpson acknowledged perhaps more could have been done and quickly called up Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard to report on a meeting city officials had with Port and railroad officials about safety issues. Hubbard reported they listened to officials and another meeting on emergency preparedness is set for July.
Dickerson did not leave the podium and was not appeased, saying “So it’s a reactive stance, and you have accepted” that oil will come to the Harbor putting “us at tremendous risk without any benefit to the city.” She interrupted the mayor, who barked “Ms. Dickerson, you have had your say.”
Simpson added the railroad plans to spend $4.5 million this year on repairs of the short line that brings goods to the Harbor. More will be spent next year, he said.
“We have nothing to gain, nothing,” she interjected, “and a great deal to lose.”
Her husband also reiterated comments he made previously that the railroad would take care of itself and not necessarily the city. Dickerson, who has studied and worked in transportation economics, doubts that the railroad’s plan to spend $4.5 million is enough. He said paying for accidents can cost less that repairing the railroad. “It’s your responsibility to be strong,” he scolded.
City Hall Fountain Repair
“Heaven, Man and Earth,” a bronze fountain in front of City Hall sculpted by George Tsutakawa, will be removed and repaired by his son Gerry Tsutakawa in Seattle soon, Parks and Recreation Director Karl Harris said. The corroded water lines will be replaced. The city will do the water drainage and concrete work for the job, which should cost around $10,000 “assuming the pump is usable,” Harris said.
The fountain has been a fixture in the city hall plaza since 1978. Tsutakawa offered to fix his father’s work, but is so busy the fountain won’t be returned until spring of next year, Harris said.
More road work up the hill
The Department of Public Works will begin paving Oak, Willow and Sixth streets now that a bid has been awarded. The streets have been patched and will now be resurfaced.
The low bid was awarded to Granite Construction Co. for $201,201, which was substantially lower than the $265,028 bid submitted by Lakeside Industries.
Rotary Log Pavilion Maintenance
Peter Bird and Fidalgo Restoration will repair 50 feet of lineal log rot and train city workers how to apply “maintenance stain” on the Rotary Log Pavilion, so that job won’t have to be hired out so often. Fidalgo last repaired and stained the pavilion in 2010.
The job will cost $10,000.
Funding will be paid with $2,000 from Parks and Recreation’s pavilion reserve fund and $8,000 from the city’s general fund reserves in the form of a supplemental budget request, according to city documents.
The council also approved the sale of an electric generator and transfer switch and a Ford Escort belonging to the Fire Department as surplus equipment. It also agreed to sell an old GMC military vehicle to Montesano for $1.