CHELAN — Two Chelan natives running against each other for a city council position are concerned by the city’s rapid growth, but differ on how to respond to it.
Jon Higgins, 46, is concerned with the city’s interest in purchasing additional land for public use. John Olson, 76, thinks the government should do more to increase public access to the lake and thinks further intervention is necessary.
Olson believes it is the government’s responsibility to ensure there is public property along Lake Chelan into the future. The city should take drastic action to preserve property, such as with the Three Fingers area.
“The city needs to drop eminent domain on (the three fingers) and use it for the public,” Olson said. “The public has 1% access to Lake Chelan, but the public owns 100% of the lake.”
Higgins feels more leery about the city of Chelan using its power to buy property. He is worried that the city is not using its budget wisely and that purchases, like Spader Bay, won’t serve their intended use.
“My personal opinion of it is, if they purchase (Spader Bay), they are going to enter a scenario where it is only going to be used by the owners of The Lookout and the people who rent homes in The Lookout,” Higgins said.
Higgins does think property should be purchased for more parking spaces. Olson also thinks parking is an issue in the city.
Higgins and Olson do agree that the city needs to work on infrastructure.
The city’s past decisions when it comes to traffic revisions have caused more problems, said Higgins. For example, the one-way bridge on Woodin Avenue has led to issues at other intersections.
“There is a huge uproar about the one-way bridge,” Higgins said. “I think that was a decision that the city jumped on and they shouldn’t have.”
There isn’t one particular area where the city of Chelan is failing when it comes to infrastructure, Olson said. The city is defective in almost every way imaginable from needing updates to its sewage system and water system to its roads, he said.
“I’m half a block off the main drive,” he said. “No sidewalks, no curbs, no gutters, no storm drain, no parking strip, no parking lane, no turn lanes, no striping, no nothing. The city has been around for 125 years. I would call that a deficit.”
Olson said he is concerned about how the city of Chelan is responding to its rapid growth. He has participated in almost every public meeting in the city for the last four years because of that concern and is ready to start working on solutions on day one.
“I’m retired,” he said. “I don’t have an employer to satisfy. I don’t have to be afraid of a bad response to anything I might say. I can tell truth to power.”
Higgins wants to give back to the community that he has been a part of most of his life. If he doesn’t get elected this time around, Higgins said he will run again.
“I’m actually fourth generation in Chelan,” Higgins said. “I’ve got deep roots here. I feel like it is time to give back to the city of Chelan and to the community itself, so that is why I’m running.”