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The Salmon City Council spent over half of its two and a half hour November 2 meeting on three topics; Transportation Plan details, the Salmon Whitewater Park Association/City of Salmon Agreement and a proposed Interagency Agreement between the City and Lemhi County.

City Community Development Coordinator Mary Cerise presented a draft of the updated Transportation Plan she has been working on for the past two years and explained the process that went into its development. She said the document is something that can and should be looked at every year to see what if any changes should be made to the Resolution.

Council President Jim Baker had a long list of comments which included disagreeing with the idea that taking traffic off Main Street would kill Salmon and with what he called a ‘perception’ that Main Street traffic is congested. He was also concerned no deviations to the plan would be allowed and that that would tie the council’s hands. During the 45 minute discussion he brought up the proposed alternate bridge project which Cerise said is a separate topic and he took issue with the 12 identified priorities in the plan saying the council did not discuss or approve the priorities. Cerise said the priorities were established by public surveys and members of the appointed Transportation Advisory Committee which consisted of community and state representatives, representatives from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD,) the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC,) local Emergency Services personnel and law enforcement, Search and Rescue members, as well as councilmen and representatives from the hospital.

Councilman Neal James pointed out the Plan is a guide, not an ordinance, and Councilman Rob Jackson made a motion to delay the topic until more discussion is held at the November 16 council meeting.

The city’s recommended new Phase I agreement with the Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) was listed on the evening’s agenda. Phase I of the proposed whitewater park involves a city/SWPA agreement which allows the organization to pursue obtaining the proper agency permits necessary to even consider building park structures in the Salmon River. After discussions strayed into details not related to Phase I, Councilmen Jim Bockelman and Russ Chinske reminded fellow members the agreement listed for discussion on the agenda was only about initial inquiries into whether or not permits can be secured. Chinske said any public hearings, as suggested by Baker, would come when and if such permits are granted.

Baker asked if the Phase I agreement is approved and an accident happened to occur afterwards, would the city or council be liable? City Attorney Fred Snook answered, “No.”

Councilman Ken Hill made a motion to approve the new City of Salmon/SWPA Phase I agreement as presented in that evening’s informational packets. The vote was five to one in favor of approval with Jackson casting the dissenting vote.

The council went on to a 40 minute discussion about the myriad of issues it sees related to the city signing a requested Interagency Agreement with Lemhi County. The agreement would signify a joint effort to build a new river crossing. The major agreed-upon council objection is the proposed 70/30 cost split. The agreement calls for the county to pay 70 percent of the proposed bridge expenses and the city to pay 30 percent however; at this stage there are no cost estimates and no hint as to how much 30 percent would be. It has been made clear that in order for the state to engage in any kind of project assistance there has to be an Interagency City/County Joint Agreement in place.

Cerise advised the project be broken into phases and mentioned the huge environmental hurdles that will be encountered building a new bridge over waters listed under the Endangered Species Act, as opposed to replacing an existing bridge. She said the mandatory environmental impact studies will dictate where the bridge would be built therefore; for now there is no way to know its location or length.

Baker asked many questions, most of which were addressed at an Interagency meeting that had taken place the day before the November 2 Council Meeting. City Clerk Mary Benton was one of those who attended the Tuesday meeting and had transcribed her meeting minutes for the council. She, along with City Finance Director Amy Fealko who also attended the interagency meeting, said it is very important that council members read the minutes compiled by Benton. Benton also offered to make available CD copies of the recorded meeting.

A motion was made by Baker for the city to stay in the negotiating mode while it considers new options. It passed unanimously. Snook quoted a letter from the interagency group which said members would like to meet November 10 for further negotiations. The council’s agenda was then officially amended to discuss the negotiation process and how to proceed and it was agreed council members will read the meeting minutes. It was decided a letter will be sent to the Lemhi County Commissioners saying the city is willing to negotiate and will discuss the proposed agreement further at the city’s November 16 meeting however; the city can’t meet the November 10 time line set forth in the Interagency letter.


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