The city of Bingen didn't waste any time getting geared up for 2008. On Jan. 2, in the Bingen City Council's first meeting of the year, council members discussed a substantial list of several possible "goals and priorities" for the new year.
Because the current agreement is seen as deficient, council member Laura Mann said she believed developing a new sewer contract between Bingen and White Salmon was the most important item for the city to tackle.
City administrator Jan Brending agreed that was a critical need.
"The sewer agreement we do have in place addresses the sewer plant, not the transmission lines," Brending explained. "It doesn't address how to maintain the main line coming down from White Salmon. If we're looking where to spend our time and efforts, the sewer agreement is one we should spend time on."
Brending pointed out that in her view, the need for a fresh contract was exemplified during a recent sewer overflow in the main pipeline coming through Bingen. She noted that, in early December, a crew from White Salmon's Public Works Department was called to Bingen to help fix the overflow, which was in the sewer line behind McDonald's.
The crew from White Salmon helped clean out roots and debris from the pipeline.
"Some of their employees kind of had an attitude about that," Brending said. "One of them said something to the effect of, `why are we here working in Bingen?' I looked at him and told him, `it's your main line into Bingen.'"
Mayor Brian Prigel said the line is within the Bingen city limits, but is upstream of any Bingen input.
"It's 100 percent White Salmon flow," Prigel explained. "There has been an ongoing problem there with blackberry bushes and roots growing into the pipeline."
Prigel said a joint in the pipe there needs to be sealed or repaired.
"Who would pay for it, that's the question. It's a gray area," Prigel said. "Technically it's our line, owned by Bingen, but it doesn't serve Bingen. It's 100 percent serving White Salmon."
Prigel added that there are currently no talks scheduled with White Salmon on the sewer agreement.
"We'll probably start working on it this spring," Prigel said on Friday.
Addressing another water-related issue, council member Betty Barnes said she believed fixing the bad odor of the water in Bingen needed to be high on the list as well.
"We need to put that right at the top," Barnes said.
"I agree, that should be a high one," Mann agreed.
In all, there were 16 key projects listed, as well as another list of nine smaller projects for the city's Public Works Department to take on in 2008.
The city of Bingen's list of major proposals for review included:
Water and sewer system agreements: "There are several agreements in place between the two cities regarding the water and sewer systems. These agreements are in drastic need of being updated. This should be a top priority for the two cities, as it will help them address funding scenarios, responsibilities, etc. Making this a priority will require (cooperation) from the city of White Salmon," read an excerpt from a memorandum listing the 2008 projects;
Find options to deal with the water odor problem: "The city needs to investigate possible options to deal with the water odor problem. These options will be presented to the City Council along with cost estimates for selection and approval of a course of action";
Plan for a community center and park upgrades: "The city intends to hire a planning team to develop conceptual plans and cost estimates for a community center and park improvements, with the plan to be completed by June; identification of funding sources and fundraising could also begin in 2008";
Complete a water system plan;
Execute the Maple Street reconstruction project;
Replace the Depot Street sewer line between McDonald's and Maple Street;
Update financial and utility software;
Plan for changes to the Gorge Heritage Museum;
Improve storm water drainage at 400 W. Steuben: "The city will soon have engineering plans and a cost estimate for a storm water drainage project where Dry Creek goes under State Route 14";
Clean debris from the Dry Creek culvert;
Fix sewer infiltration and inflow problems;
Pave streets: "City employees will identify specific street segments that need to be paved, and submit a request for pricing to Klickitat County. Along with street paving, the approaches to the Jefferson Street bridge need to be improved";
Ink an animal control agreement between Bingen and Goldendale; and
Complete a "critical areas ordinance update."
Among the listed projects for the public works crew in 2008 were: Fencing the Bingen Hill water reservoir; establishing a bypass at Bingen Reservoir; and replacing meters.
Mayor Prigel said the list helps the city move key projects forward.
"We try to do the list every so often," Prigel said. "It's a good thing to touch base on. Many of them will be worked on anyway, but it's a matter of how much time and resources we have."