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Split vote OKs attempt to restore building


Citizens and town council members argued Wednesday over whether to OK an application for a grant that would help save an old “steam building” behind Coulee Dam Town Hall, developing it into a trailhead for Candy Point Trail — with a bathroom, including a shower.

The “Candy Point and Crown Point Trailhead Development” proposal asks the state Recreation and Conservation Office for $108,450 of a total project cost of $135,650, with the town making up the $27,200 match.

Mayor Greg Wilder said half of that would come from “in kind” work, and donations would add the rest of it.

“If we don’t find the funding, we won’t accept it,” he said of the possible grant award.

But Councilmember Keith St. Jeor said the town shouldn’t be in the camping business and doesn’t have the money to maintain it. Nearby resident Bruce Bartoo said, “The town doesn’t need another asset to take care of,” especially since he could count seven public restrooms on the west side of town.

And Fred Netzel said the application contained a “fatal flaw” because there had been no required “opportunity for public comment.”

Councilmember David Schmidt said that opportunity existed whenever the town's park and recreation committee met publicly; the grant didn’t require a formal hearing.

Schmidt said the building was part of the dam construction era, and that it now needs to either be torn down or made into something useful.

Councilmember Duane Johnson also had reservations about future maintenance costs, but voted with Schmidt and Councilmember Gayle Swagerty to approve the application. St. Jeor and Councilmember Ben Alling voted no.

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