Quality of life concerns dominate Aberdeen City Council meeting

City officials, the public, and the new director of Timberland Regional Library spent nearly two hours at the Aberdeen City Council meeting Wednesday night holding forth on quality of life issues.

In official action, the nine council members present approved increased fees for residents who pack their garbage cans to overflowing. They also voted to expand the Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission from five to seven members.

Mayor Bill Simpson took special note of the painting of the dilapidated Morck Hotel. “It looks better,” he said. Chester Trabucco, part of the building’s ownership group, promised the mayor this spring that the Morck would be painted.

The public had safety on its mind. April Obi-Boling, who lives near Sam Benn Park, spoke at length about public bathrooms and traffic safety around the park.

Parks and Recreation Director Karl Harris addressed her concerns, saying the department is still trying to work out how best to deal with availability of public bathrooms, which are closed at 4 p.m. The park is open until 10 p.m., and patrons are asked to use a portable toilet after hours. He said the department is reviewing that policy and struggles with the balance of safety of the public and its employees who often found drug users camping in public bathrooms overnight.

Obi-Boling’s concerns about drivers running stop signs on Burleigh Avenue were addressed by Public Works Director Malcolm Bowie who said the land is park land and not in a public right of way. Speed bumps are expensive and often don’t work, several officials said. Obi-Boling urged increased ticketing. The mayor noted that obeying the stop signs and traffic rules would be best.

Gilbert Myers said he thought Aberdeen should consider adopting measures he said are being tried in Tacoma, where methamphetamine addicts are evicted from public housing which is then decontaminated. Luke Tackett of the Union Gospel Mission urged more compassion and closer family ties as a better answer to addiction.

On the positive side, the new director of the Timberland Regional Library system, , complimented Aberdonians for loving their library and she lauded all the work done by Aberdeen Library Manager Christine Peck in 25 years of service. Heywood saluted her for helping increase use of the library by many standards including checkouts, audio visual use and electronic downloading. “This is huge,” Heywood said.

Peck is due to retire at the end of November. “You’ll be bored,” said Sylvia Dickerson, one of the founders of the Our Aberdeen group concerned with rejuvenating the downtown area.

“I have books to read,” responded Peck with a smile.

In a somber note, the mayor asked for a moment of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance for those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks 12 years ago.