The Gig Harbor City Council has made it official regarding the purchase and acquisition of the Masonic Lodge property.
At its meeting on Oct. 9, the Council approved ratification of the agreement 6-1, with Councilman Michael Perrow voting against.
Although City Administrator Ron Williams presented to Council a detailed outline of the events leading up to the purchase and acquisition of the property, and Mayor Jill Guernsey said she is working with finance to draft a policy that would require appraisal of a property before purchase and Council ratification of a purchase at a public meeting, Perrow said he did not feel comfortable rushing to ratification when the process of removing the oil tank on site had been delayed.
“While the tank is in the ground, I don’t feel the need to ratify this,” he said. “Again, as I said at the last meeting, it’s sort of an optics thing. If the public sees us pass it and we don’t know what’s going on, it looks like we’re just pushing it under the rug.”
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Parks Administrator Katrina Knutson reassured the Council that a plan is in place.
“We are under contract with Aspect Consulting to remove the tank and do the final soil testing to ensure that we do have a clean site,” she said. “We expect that to occur within the next three weeks. Similar to the sub-slab testing and soil testing, it will take about seven days to get the results back from the lab and we will report that to Council as soon as possible.”
City Attorney Angela Summerfield said a delay in removal of the oil tank and final soil testing should not trigger a delay in ratification.
“There is no problem in passing this motion tonight,” Summerfield said. “One of the things we would like to see is for this ratification to go forward.”
Summerfield said if results from the lab indicate a need for a remediation plan, then one will be developed at that time.
“But there is a chance that there may not be a need for a remediation plan,” she said.
Guernsey presented a report to Council that consisted of an overview of 10 properties purchased by the city over the past decade. In all instances, she said no consistent process to purchase was performed and ratification in many cases was overlooked. She urged the Council to approve ratification.
Guernsey also made clear that a new policy should require the ratification of future purchases be put on the regular agenda, not the consent agenda.
Moving the policy to the regular agenda would allow the Council and residents to have more public discussion about the process.
Council member Steve Ekberg said Perrow requested clarification at the last meeting.
“I think we got a lot of clarification tonight,” Ekberg said.
The majority of Council, save Perrow, echoed Ekberg’s statement.