The active transportation committee took center stage during Monday evenings Mount Shasta City Council meeting, along with a presentation of the LED streetlight system update and continued public discussion of the water meter installation project.

City manager Paul Eckert presented a report including an overview of the process for the June 2 special election for a new city council member, advertisement for participation in the downtown enhancement advisory committee, water conservation efforts and funding for the sewer interceptor line project.

A special meeting was held prior to the regularly scheduled meeting to hear presentations from two candidates interested in sitting on the Recreation and Parks District board of directors.

Mayor Geoff Harkness said council will continue this format of conducting interviews during special meetings scheduled before the regular meetings. He explained, “This is very common this time of year when we are trying to fill our committees. We did hear the discontent with the length of those interviews and having them conducted at the beginning of the meetings.”

Several public commenters during the regular meeting expressed gratitude for the format change.

Appointments, interviews

Councilors approved appointing Casey Clure, Emily Derby, Alan Pardee, and Melanie Findling to the planning commission.

Adjustments to the composition and meeting frequency of the beautification committee were approved, and Leslie Holland, Terez Maniatis, Alexis Meadows and Lorie Saunders were appointed members.

Steve Mitrovich and Arthur Horvath were interviewed during the special meeting for a position on the Recreation and Parks board.

Mitrovich, who has a background in education administration and served as Mount Shasta Union School District superintendent for over five years, said he “wants to be of service to the community and enhance the quality of living.”

Horvath, an artist and mason, wants to promote the aesthetics of local parks in the city. He said he “sees a lot that can be done.”

Active Transportation Committee

Michael Williams of the city’s active transportation committee gave an update on ATC’s recent achievements, current priorities and challenges.

The committee, originally called the alternative transportation advisory committee, was formed in 2009 to advise the council on transportation issues.

In the past few years, the ATC has procured grant funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects such as the installation of bicycle lanes and sidewalks on major roads. The ATC is also responsible for the Lake Siskiyou Trail and dedicating Castle Alley, which is a key part of the larger midtown trail project, to non-motorized use.

Williams said the ATC would like to do a presentation on the midtown trail, which would connect all the parks and schools in the city to local trailheads and even possibly to the city of Weed, sometime before the call for grant applications goes out.

He suggested establishing a tradition of interaction between the ATC and planning commission and requested city council keep the ATC in mind when considering grant funding for transportation projects, citing that Siskiyou County ranks 55 out of 57 counties in California for health outcomes.

Williams pointed out that Mount Shasta is unique in having a volunteer committee such as the ATC, whereas most other cities would have paid staff seeking grant funding for such projects. Council members commended Williams and the ATC for doing a good job and thanked them for all of the hard work in improving Mount Shasta’s pedestrian transportation options.

Water meters and other public comments

Although the water meter installation project was not on this meeting’s agenda, several citizens spoke about concerns relating to the potential for a future AMI smart water meter upgrade and asked for details on the opt-out plan.

In response, mayor pro tem Jeffrey Collings assured the public that they would “absolutely be informed” if the city was considering an AMI upgrade, although he expressed doubt that Mount Shasta would expand that far.

Councilors agreed to add a discussion of the opt-out program for the water meter project as a future agenda item to be discussed in the next couple of months.

Molly Brown suggested forming an advisory board focused on potential health issues in order to prepare city council for public response. Harkness replied that the idea has been considered, but in the meantime city council is at the public’s disposal and happy to hear any concerns directly.

Other comments related to the water meters came from Roslyn McCoy, who expressed concern about plastics and requested the city look into the stainless steel meters.

Mike Brown and Dorian Aiello both praised city council for their hard work despite recent difficulties and discontent with community opinions. Brown claimed to be speaking on behalf of an “older group” of citizens who believe “we need Crystal Geyser.”

Aiello commended Collings for his thoroughly informative presentation on water meters and said he supports the process 100%.

LED streetlights

Collings gave another presentation about the LED streetlights that will be installed in the next two to four weeks. The slides from his presentation, which includes information about the streetlight components, current streetlight situation in Mount Shasta, program objectives, energy cost/savings, environmental considerations and options the city is considering are available on the city’s website http://www.ci.mt-shasta.ca.us/clerk/council/MountShastaStreetLightReplacementProgram.pdf

Collings said the streetlight project is exempt from the CEQA process and that the public is encouraged to visit the new lights at Kenneth Way and the intersection of Mount Shasta Blvd. and Lake St. once they’re installed in order to provide the city with feedback.

The city is considering 50 watt adjustable LED lights turned all the way down to 15-20 watts. The lights in residential areas will have a backshield preventing light from reaching homes and those on Mount Shasta Blvd. will not have a backshield.

Vicki Gold requested an opt-out program for the streetlights in residential areas further from the city that have low incidence of crime. Roslyn McCoy said the new Alma St. lights reach her backyard and asked if the streetlight poles are going to be replaced as well.

Collings responded that the lights on Alma St. will be replaced with ones of lower adjustable wattage and that the current poles will remain throughout the town. Only the lights will be replaced.

City manager and council member comments

Eckert reviewed important dates related to the June 2 special election to fill Tom Moore’s seat on Mount Shasta’s city council. The dates are available on the county website: www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/sites/default/files/elections/ELE-20150602_ImportantDates.pdf and will soon be posted on the city website.

The city manager update included a continued search for funding for the sewer interceptor line project and working closely with CalTrout on water conservation efforts.

Information packets, including applications for the downtown enhancement advisory committee will be distributed this week to business owners in the city. Eckert said that five seats are available for the committee.

Council member Michael Burns reported on the most recent LTC meeting, stating that the city got the green light for alternative R to be implemented in the Hwy. 89/South Mount Shasta Blvd. improvement project.