Friday, September 18, 2009

Life2 - For a More Sustainable Leavenworth

As a new member of Life2, I attended their monthly meeting this past Wednesday. For those of you unfamiliar with this Leavenworth organization, " The mission of LIFE2 is 'to inspire, educate and mobilize the citizens of the greater Leavenworth community to take responsibility for meeting the environmental, economic and social needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their needs.' LIFE2 began when interested citizens of Leavenworth responded to an invitation to come to the Barn Beach Reserve to discuss the concept of a sustainable community at a meeting held on October 29, 2008, initiating what has become an on-going series of discussions about the future of the greater Leavenworth area."

At this weeks meeting we discussed several important and current issues; the downtown ice rink project, the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery upgrade project, recycling, the upcoming candidate forum.

The Downtown Ice Rink
There recently was a gathering of Leavenworth residents to discuss the possibility of constructing an ice rink at a downtown location. The brainchild of Tony Keyser, this rink is currently being proposed in the Lion's Club park. The City of Leavenworth would be sponsoring the project and wold be the fiscal agent for the project, particularly for grant funding.

If the rink were to be constructed in the park, it would require the removal of a few trees and would be adding a hardened surface to this current green space. This has been of concern for some residents, due to the fact that Lion's Club park is the only park north of Highway 2. The location in the park is not final, but it is hoped that it will be located where it is visible in the downtown corridor. The City will be asking for public feedback in the near future.

Fish Hatchery Upgrade Project
The Leavenworth Fish Hatchery recently obtain $14 million dollars in federal stimulus money to be used to repair and upgrade the fish pond infrastructure. Currently there is a pipe system that leads to the aquifer which in turn fills the fish ponds, from a diversion several miles upstream on Icicle Creek. This system is failing and in need of repair. The hatchery is proposing a new system that would incorporate a pumping system, which would require electricity. The current system is gravity fed. Although there are other structures within the hatchery that are in need of repair, like the head gate, the stimulus money would only be used for the pumping station.

Currently, the gravity fed system diverts 42 cfs worth of water to the aquifer and wells at the hatchery. The diversion water goes into the canal and recharges the aquifer, and is then used to fill the ponds. The new system may at times divert all the creek water, and this is of concern for many, not only for the health and vitality of the creek, its fish and their habitat, but also because the hatchery may not have the water rights for a full diversion of the water from the aquifer.

There is no doubt that the system needs to be repaired. The current pipe system is close to failure, and if it fails, it would be difficult to keep the fish alive. For those interested in this upcoming project, please contact the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery or the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Dave Torgler, the City Administrator, joined us at our meeting this week to discuss the progress that the City is making on introducing a recycling program to the residents of Leavenworth. Dave said that Waste Management has agreed to provide residential service, but they do not have a written agreement with the City yet. Once an agreement has been signed, Waste Management would provide 95 gallon containers to those who contract for the service. Pick-up would be bi-weekly, $7.90 per month, and service would be direct with Waste Management, not with the City. Dave is hoping to be able to bring an agreement to the City Council in early October, as they are trying to make recycling available as soon as possible. He believes that city residents will have recycling at their homes by January 1, 2010!

Dave Morgan of Leavenworth Recycles (LR) reminded everyone that the drop off site on the County Shop Road would be closing as of January 1, 2010. LR is no longer able to fund its operation. Morgan asked Torgler if it would be possible to obtain a variable can rate for garbage for those who contract for curbside recycling, meaning if a resident uses a smaller garbage can or uses less cans, they would pay less for garbage. Currently garbage is a flat rate, that doesn't take into account those who dispose of less. A variable can rate would help encourage recycling. Torgler said that the City would be looking at a variable can rate that is economical for the City too.

Torgler mentioned that the City was not aware that LR was not going to be running the drop off site as of 2010. Currently, the City is not looking at taking over this site, but is interested in meeting with LR to discuss this option. A LIFE2 member mentioned that the City had agreed years ago, at the opening of the drop off site, that the Cit would work, over time, to take over the site from LR. This hasn't happened to date.

Ross Freeman, the Stevens Pass Environmental Manager and LIFE2 member, said that he and Stevens have worked with Waste Management for nearly two years now, and he is happy to help and answer any questions anyone, including the City, may have.

Ultimately, people innately want to do what is right. We just need to make it easy for them to do it.

Candidate Forum
The absentee ballots are to arrive at homes on October 16th, so the forum is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14th. The forum will be at 7pm at Barn Beach Reserve, and will give the City Council and School Board candidates the chance to speak to the residents of Leavenworth and answer questions before they vote.

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