Gold Bar residents’ wish list is short on funding


Herald Writer

GOLD BAR — Residents around here want more parks, better roads and sewers.

At least those were the priorities they marked on a recent survey.

But paying for them is another matter.

At the request of councilman Steve Fuller, more than 500 surveys were mailed to residents in Gold Bar in August. Only about 10 percent returned the survey, city clerk Hester Ihrig said.

But those who returned surveys agree with council members as to the importance of various items.

"The public basically has the same interests as the council has," Ihrig said.

The survey showed that parks and providing recreational space is the No. 1 item to residents.

The second is getting the city on a sanitary sewer system.

Third is road repairs and traffic control and safety on nearby U.S. 2.

Mayor Ken Foster agrees with that list but knows that each item will take money.

"Some of these things, we’re doing about the best we can given our financial constraints," Foster said. "Citizens say they want better roads, but so far voters have turned down three bond issues aimed at getting the money for paving and maintaining our city streets."

Foster said, because of that, the city has gone after grants for street repairs and has been somewhat successful. But, he said, some of that money was affected by the passage of I-695, which limited the money the state has to share with cities for transportation costs.

"We’re expecting to see some of what we’ve been promised for road projects in 2001," Ihrig said.

As a means of fulfilling residents’ desires for more parks, the city has appointed councilwoman Debbie Hunt to work on creating a master plan for parks.

"Without that, we can’t apply for the grant money that’s out there for parks," Ihrig said.

And, with such a limited budget, Ihrig said the city is having a hard time finding the money to cover the costs of creating a park plan.

For now, the city is trying to use volunteer labor and donations to spruce up its main park near city hall and the U.S. 2 park it maintains. In the plans is a gazebo to be placed in the parcel park next to city hall.

As for sewers in Gold Bar, Foster and Ihrig said that may be years away.

"We’re talking millions of dollars on that one," she said. "It probably won’t happen unless the county undertakes an overall plan for sewer extensions."

But the city is applying for grants to fund a sewer study, Fuller said.

Other items that were ranked by residents were sidewalks, a community center, more police patrol and animal control.

Fuller, who spent his own time tabulating the survey, said he had hoped for a higher number of surveys to be returned.

"But I’m fairly happy with the results," Fuller said. "It looks like the council is going the direction the citizens want."

He said he’d never known Gold Bar to survey residents on their priorities for the town and just decided to do it.

"With Gold Bar growing as fast as it is, I thought it would be a good way to find out what people wanted. Not all residents can get to the meetings to tell us. So this was just another way to hear them out."

Fuller also hopes that the city will be able to begin a newsletter or Web site in the coming weeks, to help residents keep in touch with city officials and the council members.

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