Lincoln City City Council aims to end sewer overflows enroute to the town’s treatment plant – and council denies breaking state open meeting law
Fixing a nasty problem
The Lincoln City City Council Monday night approved a costly sewer system project aimed at all but eliminating sewer spills that occur while flowing to the town’s waste water treatment plant.
Lincoln City is like a lot of Oregon towns that routinely have the skies open up and drown the countryside with so much storm run-off that it causes overflows from overwhelmed sewer pump stations.
The City Council Monday night took a big step toward making those overflows more of a rarity by adding more pipes for the water to flow through enroute to the plant. The council approved the installation of 800 feet of twin 14″ sewer capture lines that will be burrowed under Schooner Creek near the south end of town. The million dollar project will give an existing 24″ line some relief during heavier storms.
What’s different in this project is that the council gave the city’s public works department the power to individually interview a number of engineering and construction firms to determine which is the best candidate for the task. Just going out to bid won’t suffice because of the uniqueness of the job – cutting under and along a river to the treatment plant. City staff made it clear the city had one chance to get such a challenging project done the right way. They don’t want to go out to bid and take their chances. They want it done right the first time.
The council said yes. Go ahead. Staff replied that they will immediately issue requests for proposals and will intensely interview the top candidates, one of which will be recommended for approval by the City Council. Staff said they would like the project to be done by late summer/early fall.
City Council shoots back at local newspaper that accused them of having an illegal meeting.
In a recent edition of a local newspaper (not the News-Guard), the editorial staff accused the Lincoln City City Council of holding an illegal meeting – illegal because a number of city councilors were sitting in the audience watching a city advisory committee discuss important issues that would later come before the council. The paper accused city councilors present of creating a defacto meeting of themselves as councilors, thereby constituting a legal quorum of its members without first advertising it to the public.
City Councilors made it very clear Monday night that although there was a legal quorum of them in the audience, their presence was perfectly legal. City Attorney Richard Appicello agreed, adding that any city councilor has the right to attend just about any city meeting in order to get the benefit of valuable information that would affect the city. He said the only thing for councilors to watch out for is sitting too close together so that no councilor is tempted to talk to other councilors about what’s going on at the meeting. Watching a meeting and then comparing notes among themselves is forbidden because it becomes an unannounced meeting AMONG THEMSELVES. Appicello said if any councilor sees other councilors at a meeting that isn’t one of their own, to put some distance between themselves so there is no appearance of any communication between them. It would also stand to reason that at the end of such a meeting that they would leave one at a time with no chit-chat while walking down the hall.