Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Leavenworth City Council approves Public Works and Community Development initiatives, deliberates snow removal and cemetery code

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LEAVENWORTH – City Council approved new downtown garbage bins and a Link Transit restroom in the new Glacier Lot at its meeting on Feb. 12. The City also discussed limiting cemetery burials during winter, expanding sidewalk snow removal requirements, and Planning Commission code consistency, but took no action. 

City Council unanimously approved the leasing of 55 Big Belly garbage bins for 60 months, which have the capability to compact trash and be emptied using the City’s automated garbage truck. Ten of the bins have a sensor that will notify Public Works staff when the bin is nearing capacity. The bins will have a one-time shipping fee of $11,630, and will cost $5,790 a month to lease. However, Public Works estimates it will save $7,300 a month in labor.

It also approved the addition of a single stall restroom for Link Transit as part of the Glacier Parking Lot Improvement Project. The single stall will be included in the same building as the public restroom, but will be reserved for Link drivers only. Link Transit will compensate the City up to $150,000 for the complete design, permitting, construction, and construction services associated with the stall.

The City reviewed and discussed the recommendation to amend the Cemetery Code to not allow a winter burial if there is more than one foot of snow on the ground. The reason to impose the limit was due to cumbersome and expensive snow removal on short notice for full service burials. 

According to Public Works Director Tom Wachholder, snow preparation for a winter burial can cost up to $1,500 in equipment, labor and fuel costs, and risk damaging turf and headstones. Wachholder said recent damage of a double headstone cost approximately $10,000 to repair. Public Works identified memorial sites that could store remains for $380 for up to 90 days while the cemetery thawed.

“My initial thought is, one of the base core concepts of the social compact that a city has is that we will take care of our dead, and especially our family members. There's a part of me that wants to say, figure it out,” said Council Member Clint Strand.

The City concluded to seek other options, such as hiring more full-time cemetery staff. A tentative public hearing on the matter was tabled until more options were explored.

The City also reviewed requirements for sidewalk snow removal. As city code stands, only property owners in commercial districts are responsible for removing snow on the adjacent sidewalk within 24 hours, not those in residential districts. Because of this exclusion, residential sidewalks are often not cleared, posing a problem for ADA compliance. Wachholder recommended including residential property owners in the requirement, due to the fact that Public Works does not have enough staff or resources to double its sidewalk snow maintenance. 

“I will note that adding staff may seem like an easy task, but we're out of space in terms of housing employees and parking vehicles. So, that's a real constraint to consider,” said Wachholder.

City Council expressed concern that the responsibility wouldn’t be spread fairly amongst residents. While some don’t have sidewalks at all, others live on wide streets in which plows dump a substantial amount of snow on the sidewalk. The tentative public hearing was also tabled to allow for further review on the matter.

Community Development Director Lilith Vespier presented code consistency updates being considered by the Planning Commission, such as reorganizing and removing redundancy. The effort is to allow for more transparency with the public. 

The City Council chose to extend the review over future meetings, and will tentatively set a public hearing date at the next City Council meeting on Feb. 27.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media





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