Debate brews over Carnation sewers
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:58 PM
CARNATION _ Carnation's sewer debate is back on the agenda with
residents voicing nearly the same concerns as they did when the
discussions first began years ago.
Some people believe that a new sewer system will kick start the
city's sagging economy while others say that it would "ruin the flavor" of the
small Valley town.
City representatives listened to those as well as other concerns
from community members at an open forum last Thursday at the
Sno-Valley Senior Center. At the meeting, Mayor Bob Patterson told residents that
it became "convincingly clear" that it was time to bring sewers into the city.
"Carnation is faced with a tremendous opportunity, if you will, a
challenge," he said. "Everybody's trying to create a community and go back
to a small-town atmosphere.
"Carnation has it; it's here. We have the structure and the history;
all we need to do is rehabilitate the city," Patterson added.
Some agreed with Patterson, citing businesses in Carnation such as
the River Run Cafe, Pete's Tavern, NAPA Auto Parts and Sandy's
Espresso which have struggled to either expand or re-start their business because of
the King County Health Department's restrictions on area septic systems.
And if sewers were brought into the city, they said, more local dollars
would stay in Carnation.
After the River Run Cafe burnt down last year, people approached
the owner of Rosebud's and asked if she could absorb the regulars at her
"I could've kept them here but I'm only allowed 16 [seats] without
sewers," said Georgia White-Romaine. "If we don't get sewers, we'll drive
Instead, the River Run's patrons needed to go outside of Carnation
to find a restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner.
But not everyone was so enamored or convinced that the sewers would
be a cure-all for the city. In fact, they said that the new system would
probably bring unwanted businesses into the area.
"Enumclaw became a sprawl of fast food restaurants and strip
malls," said Carnation resident Marc McGinnis of the impact sewers had
on the south King County community. "We see that in Duvall and
North Bend. That's not going to maintain our character."
However, according to the city's 1996 Comprehensive Plan, the
city council is directed to "maintain the live-ability and small town
character of Carnation for its residents."
That would be accomplished by encouraging small businesses and
specialty shops to come to the area instead of chain stores, fast food restaurants
and strip malls.
Thirty-four other residents signed a petition saying that sewers would
be an unwelcome utility in the community. They said that their septic
systems work great and the unknown costs of the new sewer leaves them
a bit skeptical.
"We all feel like we're being asked to subsidize what may or may not
be necessary for downtown," said resident Germaine Miller-St. Germain.
"It was hard to believe that there weren't any dollar amounts [presented at
the forum]. I would think that something of this magnitude, that it would
have been addressed."
Lynn Taylor, a spokeswoman for American Engineering, the
company hired to develop the city's 20-year sewer plan, said it was premature
to say what type of system should be used and how much it would cost.
She said this initial meeting was to receive feedback from the community and
to listen to their concerns before the company moved forward with its plans.
In the next several months American Engineering will evaluate the
different types of collection systems, determine construction costs
and monthly fees and recommend discharge options.
The city plans to hold a public hearing in the middle of May and
the council will probably vote on a proposal by the end of that month.
If approved, the sewer system would service the downtown core
and western part of the city with the newer subdivisions in the east joining in
after 20 years.