A heavily-debated project to replace water lines under First St. is nearing completion according to reports from the May 29 Winlock City Council meeting.
The project was originally connected with a $76,500 grant from the Transportation Improvement Board to repave sections of First St. with the condition the city replace the pipes under those sections beforehand.
Funding for the grant, awarded November of 2011, remained unapproved by Winlock as officials failed to agree on how pipes were to be installed, leading the city to withdraw itself from eligibility at the end of April. During the May 29 meeting, Mayor Glen Cook said the pipe replacement project was still under way and should be completed by the end of last week, though recent follow-up indicated it will most likely be completed in the coming days.
Such updates were discussed after Longview-based property owners Robert and Carleen Hayden, who own a rental home affected by the project, returned to state they were dismayed the upgrade was still ongoing.
The Haydens had first approached the council March 11 stating they were concerned the city was prepared to dig through their property without an easement and said they would take legal action if such an event occurred.
After a later meeting with city officials, the Haydens communicated they were satisfied with the city’s plans and had not spoken before the council since March 25.
During the May 29 meeting, Robert Hayden said he had not been contacted with a project update and wanted to know what specific work was being done.
Cook said workers will be tying lines together as well as shutting off cork stops and repairing damaged portions of the sidewalk.
Robert Hayden said, according to the documents he has seen regarding the meetings, he understands the city is ignoring its own design standards, which has been a major concern among council members critical of the project. Robert Hayden said he was specifically concerned the city was not using backflow valves with each meter, stating connections that share a meter stand to send contaminated water from one hookup to the other without the valves.
Cook replied the methods being used to complete the project meet or exceeded Winlock’s design standards and comply with standards established by the American Water Works Association, though these methods do differ from what is prescribed in Winlock’s standards.
Robert Hayden stated, while the city’s approach may be technically correct, it worries him when a city does not follow its own guidelines, but Cook contended standards are being upheld according to his interpretation of the guidelines.
During the discussion, Council Member Denise Green was openly critical of this newspaper for printing what she called misquoted information, specifically contesting statements printed May 22 that she had been contradicted by the Lewis County Department of Health and City Attorney Mark Scheibmeir in regard to possible health code and property rights violations.
Town Crier has reevaluated the sources of information we relied upon when printing such statements and have found no grounds to print a retraction. We do believe, however, recent reports may have been over-simplified and a more complete accounting of which of Green’s statements were called into question has been published here.
The next council meeting is scheduled for June 10 at 7:15 p.m. in City Hall. Those with questions or in need of accommodations may call (360) 785-3811 beforehand.