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Debate brews over Carnation sewers

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

tearoom.

"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

people away."

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.

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