Town looks to future needs
Looking toward future growth, the Winthrop Town Council last week approved a contract with Wenatchee-based Aspect Consulting to provide technical assistance in researching and developing additional water rights for the town.
In a memo to the council, Public Works Superintendent Jeff Sarvis noted that Winthrop’s 2011 water plan recommended that the town “review current water use compared to current rights and secure additional water rights for future growth.”
That was 10 years ago, and Sarvis said the town needs to act now to ensure that it will have adequate water resources in the future.
Sarvis said the town has “certificated” water rights that are locked in, but also some un-certificated, pending water rights.
“There is no time like the present for the verification of current water rights along with future needs,” Sarvis said in the memo.
The contract is for $8,900 for Aspect to provide a variety of consulting services including research on the viability of two water rights that have been offered by a private owner for the town to purchase. Aspect said it will “develop an action plan for next steps with respect to the town’s water rights to ensure it has sufficient growth options in the future.”
Sarvis told the council last week that the project is being funded with a state Department of Ecology grant.
“We’re going to have to find water in the future to keep up with need,” Sarvis said. “We’ll have to make some investments.”
Currently, Sarvis said, the town is using about 60% of its rights.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council finally signed off on a revision of the town’s park and trail regulations when it adopted speed limits for electric-assisted bicycles and motorized foot scooters.
But council members, who have spent several meetings debating what kinds motorized vehicles should be allowed on multi-use recreational trails such as the Susie Stephens trail, acknowledged that they expect to revisit the issue sooner or later.
With one objection, the council adopted a 15 mile per hour speed limit for all vehicles on town trails, motorized or otherwise.
Council member William Kilby said he thought the limit should be 10 miles per hour, as it is on the extensive Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle.
“I think this is where it [the ordinance] needs to be for now,” council member Ben Nelson said. “I think we’ll revisit it down the road … the technology is going to change.”
Council member Joe O’Driscoll said that “things could get out of hand quickly” without some kind of regulations, and that revised ordinance “is a start.”
O’Driscoll said he thought 10 miles per hour was too slow because human-powered bicycles can go faster than that. “We can’t ask them [motorized vehicles] to be going slower than bikes,” he said.
Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said that speed limit signs will be posted at appropriate spots on the trails.
The council also conducted a public hearing on an annexation request by three property owners who own adjacent lots that are contiguous with the town’s boundaries. The lots are near the town tennis courts, behind the Winthrop library. All are zoned single-family residential, and the area is included in the town’s comprehensive plan as a “potential annexation area.” The Planning Commission earlier review the request and recommended that the council accept the annexation petition.
The town received no public comments on the petition request.
The council also heard a report from Sarvis about the installation of three electronic signs that tell motorists how fast they are going when they enter the town limits. The council earlier authorized purchase of the signs as part of the town’s efforts to reduce speeding into and through the town.
Sarvis said the “hefty” signs are larger than expected and it will take more time to install foundations that will support them. That work is underway, he said.
The town currently has stationed a portable electronic speed indicator sign on Highway 20, aimed at westbound traffic into town.