Nurses Olivia Moe and Heather Koellen compete as North Bend City Council Position 3 is up for grabs.
Koellen is a registered nurse who works in the neuroscience intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center and received her nursing degree from University of Washington. She has served on the city’s planning commission, has been a girl scout leader, and has volunteered at Rattle Snake recreation area.
Moe received her nursing degree from Northwest University and is a registered nurse working in an intensive care unit. She has called North Bend home since 2011.
Are you for or against the potential water deal with the Sallal Water Association? Please explain why.
Moe: In all honesty I don’t believe that as a citizen I have been given access to enough information about how Sallal or the city of North Bend manages their water rights and distribution to give you an educated answer on this question. I am not invited to attend the meetings between Sallal and the city and have never been shown in detail exactly what a partnership between the two entails. How expensive will it be for our residents for this partnership to happen? Will it affect either rates? Will it require new and expensive infrastructure and who will be paying for it? How will this partnership affect our environment with Sallal having to drill a new well? What does a partnership between the two mean for the current users of Sallal? On city council these are the types of questions I will be asking, and I’ll be asking them of both sides. I’m sure the answers to these questions will bring up many more, but only then can I start to understand the complexity of this relationship and make an informed decision.
Koellen: In theory this sounds like a great idea. It would be easier to have one water source for North Bend citizens and this would provide shared resources. The problem is all bargaining attempts between the city and Sallal have failed. Twenty (20) percent of Sallal members recently voted not to merge with the city of North Bend. They worry that their water will be chlorinated, and rates will go up. My concern for these citizens as a Sallal member myself, is even without a merger the rates will go up anyway. Sallal does not have enough water to service future development. This means the only new revenue generated will be from its current members, and Sallal needs money to keep up on infrastructure and maintenance. I am for a merger under the right terms and if done in the right way.
How do you balance development and growth against maintaining the town’s current character?
Moe: The secret is out, North Bend is an amazing place to live. Within minutes from hiking trails and beautiful mountain views surrounding our valley, it’s easy to see why new people want to come. Not only is this valley beautiful but we have an amazing community of people that live here, and that’s what makes North Bend hard to leave. How do you balance growth without losing your town in the process? You match your growth to your town’s character, and you grow slowly. Slow enough so that street improvements can keep up with the growing traffic. Slow enough so that sewer and other infrastructure can be upgraded before they become an issue. These last five years we’ve seen a huge explosion of residential growth. We watched our trees get cut down and our open spaces built on. We watched our wildlife get lost in the chaos and our roads filled up with new cars and traffic. This massive growth did not feel like it matched the character of our small town. It’s time we focus less on residential growth and more on increasing the quality of life for the people that already live here.
Koellen: We need to have a proactive and well thought out plan. It appears that in the past North Bend has been approving developers’ plans without looking at how these plans will affect the town in the future. For example, they should be asking is there enough parking in the new neighborhoods? When the children living here now become drivers, where will they park? The city needs to continue to buy as many properties as possible for open green spaces and parks. It should be the city’s priority that North Bend is bike and pedestrian friendly, and safe for its residents.
What are your plans for sustainability and preserving the environment?
Moe: If we want to sustain and preserve what we have, we need to start by slowing down how fast we’re growing, mostly in terms of residential. These last few years we’ve had a lot of growth happen in a short amount of time. I do not believe that we can sustain our natural resources if we continue to grow at this rate. We need to be mindful of our river and how an increase in population means an increase in both water used and water needing treatment after use. More cars on the road means more pollutants in our air. You can’t build housing developments in forests, so we cut down those trees, forever altering the terrain. North Bend is proud of the large amount of open space that we’ve saved for our parks and native wildlife, but how much of that is connected so that our wildlife who use this space can move from one open space to the other without having to use neighborhood streets to get around. We live in a very special part of the Pacific Northwest, and there is nothing that is worth losing what we have.
Koellen: It will be important to encourage residents to drive less by bringing in Metro and providing convenient transportation options. We also must educate people about composting, using recycled products, using reusable containers/ bags and trying to cut back on single use plastics. We should investigate the viability of gray water systems (essentially recycling household water used for laundry, dish washing, etc.) in addition to continuing to educate about cutting back on household water usage by using low flow toilets and watering at proper times in the summer. We need the city’s cooperation to ensure the health of the river.
What are your budget priorities and why?
Moe: A big priority for me is to create a thriving downtown. North Bend’s downtown is full of small business owners living out their version of the American dream. We need more business like this — small shops and restaurants that will add to our town’s character. North Bend has a well thought out and clearly written Downtown Master Plan. You can read this entire plan on the city website. Some of the goals of this plan are to improve traffic and parking, inspire new business and create a safe and welcoming downtown while maintaining North Bend’s historic and small town character. I would like to see a part of our city’s budget go toward enacting this plan. Water and infrastructure are a huge priority for me. Finding a second source of mitigated water and setting it up for use should be a pressing priority. Whether this is the old Cascade Golf Course, a partnership with Sallal or something completely new, North Bend needs a viable second source of mitigated water. As for infrastructure, it’s been said that “All the magic happens underground,” and some of that magic is really old. I feel that we should be setting aside tax dollars, collected from new development impact fees, and using that money to slowly start replacing old and leaking underground pipes for something that will be able to keep up with our growing town. Working ahead and setting up the infrastructure we need now will only help us in the future.
Koellen: Infrastructure. We need to be proactive on street repair and resurfacing, parking for local businesses and fixing the choke point at our main intersection. I would look into removing the traffic islands on North Bend Way between Ballarat and Bendigo Blvd.