Another Take On La Center’s Repeal Of Sewer Pact

La Center’s $14 million sewer agreement with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe is all but kaput for now. However, that doesn’t mean officials with the city’s four card rooms are celebrating.

Not yet, at least.

The two sides could forge a new agreement at a later date, said John Bockmier, a Vancouver consultant who represents the card rooms. Plus, there’s still the pending federal decision on whether the tribe can build a casino on its 152 acres of land.

“Our objective is the same as it’s been for 11 years,” Bockmier said Wednesday. “We think there is a better place to build this.”

The La Center council’s unanimous vote last week to rescind its pact with the tribe came after the Growth Management Hearings Board’s decided to allow the card rooms’ appeal of the deal.

I wrote about the council’s decision in Wednesday’s print edition of The Columbian. Essentially, the city’s attorney, Dan Kearns, told me the board’s ruling made it unlikely the city’s agreement would have stood up in court. Rather than spend money needlessly, the city backed out of its six-month-old agreement.

The council’s vote left the tribe without two key components, Bockmier said. The two items the tribe lost claim to were an intergovernmental agreement and a way to handle its wastewater treatment needs, the consultant explained.

Six months ago, Bockmier argued the city was not providing proper notice to its citizens.

When/if the city and tribe seek a new sewer agreement he offered advice for them.

“If they want to pursue it and move forward, there will need to be more public participation,” Bockmier said.

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