Mayor to Montesanoans on Roundabout, Rest Stop: “Sit Down and Shut Up”?

 Montesano City Sign

If you don’t want a roundabout or rest stop coming to Montesano or have cause for pause regarding potential costs, then sit down and shut up seems to be the message from Montesano Mayor Vini Samuel.

According to the Vidette, the city planned a public hearing at the January 10 council meeting in which Mayor Samuel was to release details on overall costs for the two proposed projects: a roundabout at the Monte Square intersection and a recreational rest stop between Main and Sylvia Streets. (Possible Montesano Rest Stop Inching Forward. The Vidette, December 29.)

But the January 10 agenda did not include a public hearing on the matter.

“No Need” for Public Hearing?

About half a dozen people or so spoke in opposition to the proposed roundabout during the meeting’s second public comment period. According to former Mayor Doug Iverson, who was in attendance, they were told there was no need for a public hearing as the mayor had the authority to continue with the project and that legislators would be sourcing the funding for both the roundabout and the rest stop.

Roundabout Idea Not New

The roundabout proposal isn’t new. The sticking point has been funding. Former Mayor Ken Estes explained this in a report he prepared for the “reported Public Hearing” at the January 10 council meeting:

Roundabout and Rest Stop Report

Estes reports that the proposed roundabout was “brought up about eight years ago when the Main Street upgrade was originally discussed. City leaders at that time knew the city could not financially complete it in one effort so they planned for Phase 1, 2 and 3. Phase 1 was completed in the late 2000s, starting at the State Highway property and ending at Wynoochee.”

Estes says state and federal funds were found in 2013 to complete phase 2, ending at Marcy. Phase three wasn’t completed due to a lack of funding. Noting that the original plan was for a roundabout at the Broadway intersection, Estes writes:

“When the public got a hold of this proposal, the hue and cry of NO roundabout was heard very loudly. If the plan for the roundabout at the freeway exit and Main was more publicized, you would hear many people speak very loudly against it.”

Other concerns noted that relate to a potential roundabout include:

  • Possible wetland encroachment
  • Effects on storm water runoff/treatment
  • Maintenance costs associated with a proposed fountain
  • The ability of large trucks and other heavy equipment to safely navigate the proposed “90 foot circle”

Proposed Rest Stop

According to Mayor Samuel, the rest stop project is intended to get people off the highway and into Montesano businesses. (Wasn’t “free” Wi Fi supposed to do that?)

Says Estes, “But after business hours, the only businesses to benefit will be those at Monte Square, which already gets freeway traffic after hours.” The proposed rest stop site is located between Main and Sylvia Streets, south of the railroad tracks.

Concerns about the potential rest stop include:

  • Traffic headaches
  • Possible need for increased law enforcement presence
  • Potential vandalism and a “drug use hangout”
  • Costs

Speaking of costs, Mayor Samuel is banking heavily on state funding for both projects. According to the mayor’s state funding request, “Phase 1 includes the roundabout funding which will be sought from DOT and the Outdoor Rec Rest Stop would be a request to Capital Fund in the 2017 Budget.”

Mayor’ State Funding Request

The modern roundabout construction (Option 1) will cost $1,650,000. Compact roundabout construction (Option 2) will cost $425,000. The total “Phase 2” state funding request for the rest stop is $1,791,500.

The mayor is reportedly going to commit the city – read: taxpayers – to fifty percent (50%) of the costs for the rest stop project, in kind, such as furnishing sewer and water lines. Alert residents are wondering where the money’s going to come from? Utility fees? The forest reserve? A new fire department levy? Bake sales and raffle tickets? More “free” Wi Fi?

When’s the next public hearing for these projects?