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City Attorney Fred Snook told the Salmon City Council August 1 that based upon consultation with Idaho Falls Attorney Dale Storer it has been determined the City Council is not remiss or outside legal bounds for not having acted on a petition submitted to the city on June 20.

The petition, initiated by Jim Sustaire, is a poll of opinion as to whether or not the city should expend tax dollars to own, operate or maintain a Whitewater Kayak Wave Park. The second question on the petition asks if a recreation district should be established to generate tax dollars to financially support the park.

Snook said in his opinion the initiative is putting the cart ahead of the horse since an agreement between the city and the Whitewater Kayak Wave Park association is still in the development stages. He said that ever since talks began, part of the agreement has been the understanding the city will not spend tax dollars on the park. Snook said the only reason the city is involved at all is its ownership of Island Park which is the land adjacent to the portion of river where the proposed park would be. He said that property ownership basically makes the city the entity which has to apply for the necessary federal agency permits to build the Kayak Park. Snook said more about the status of negotiations to reach an agreement may be known after an August 8 meeting between the city and the Salmon Whitewater Park Association.

As to the petition’s question on whether or not a Recreation District should be created to fund the Whitewater Park Snook said, “As I understand it, the city doesn’t have the power itself to establish a Recreation District.”

The council discussed ways to allay worries of the 465 certified residents who signed the petition. A total of 595 signatures have been gathered.

Councilmen Fred Waidely and Jim Bockelman both pointed out the two entirely different issues involved. First, should tax money be expended on the park and second, whether or not the park is wanted. Suggestions were offered such as holding a public hearing or having the council itself officially vote yes or no on the subject of using tax dollars to own, operate or maintain a Whitewater Kayak Wave Park. Waidely thought an anticipated ‘no’ vote would put an end to the fear about tax dollars being expended.

Mayor Leo Marshall commented it has been established at previous meetings with the Whitewater Park proponents that no city monies would be spent on the project. He said the process needs to move forward. Since the scheduled agenda discussion was simply to ascertain the current status no official council action was taken.

During the closing public comment portion of the City Council meeting, petition author Jim Sustaire said he didn’t think the city has looked at the petition as compared to its own city Ordinance 79-430. He said the petition meets all requirements of the ordinance and that it is not against the park itself. He said the petition has given citizens a chance to state their opinions.

Bob Wiederrick helped circulate the petition and he said of all the people he talked to only three did not want the petition questions placed on a ballot. He said reasons given for not putting the questions to a vote were; it wouldn’t pass, it would be better to get information directly from the park proponents and, because the city council is going to fix it so it won’t be voted on. Wiederrick said, “There is tremendous support for having this petition approved.”

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