The local weekly newspaper ran a front page story last week listing the public records requests made to the cities of Roy, Rainier & Yelm for 2007 & 2008. They reported the City of Yelm had Ed Wiltsie & JZ Knight attorney Keith Moxon as the ones with the most requests for such information. The report went on to say the city says an astounding number of hours were spent by city employees filling these request.
However, what the story omitted is that the City of Yelm could save alot of employee time if they would develop their website to store much of the public information there. This city could be more public-friendly in making more documents available online — i.e. the Yelm Water Mitigation Plan, which this writer had to request under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Public Records request. That the city spent over 2/3 of a million dollars of taxpayer money without a contract on that Plan from the developer on how the taxpayer is to be repaid, should be easily accessed by all online (a full report on this in an upcoming entry!).
Further, the local newspaper did little to research why so many records requests were initiated in those years in the first place. Ed Wiltsie wrote a Letter of the Editor of the local paper and the Yelm Community Blog explaining this issue in-depth. His unabridged letter follows for all to read:
Dear Local Weekly Newspaper Editor:
Your article relating to Public Records Requests in the 06 March 2009 issue is revealing in many ways.
I would have expected many more Yelm Residents and Residents of the adjacent community to have made records requests during 2007 and 2008. In fact, I am surprised and dismayed considering the monumental changes facing the City.
In 2006/07, one of the largest subdivision to be proposed in Thurston County was approved for construction, Tahoma Terra, bringing over 1000 new homes on 220 acres to a community with a little over 1000 homes and with the potential for nearly doubling the citys population.
In November 2006, the erosion control that was supposed to have been in place for the construction of Tahoma Terra failed, delivering tons of silt laden water to Thompson Creek and coating numerous downstream residents with muck and fouling several water wells. This occurrence required corrective action by Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDOE), exposed that the city had no records of having inspected these facilities or other related construction, and drew considerable attention from WSDOE,
WSD Fish & Wildlife and Thurston County, prompting a rather large meeting of officials from these agencies, the City of Yelm and numerous Thurston County residents that had been damaged by the flood event. This event also spurred a major study of Thompson Creek starting immediately downstream of the Yelm city limits, in an attempt to create a bench mark for Thompson Creek hydrology, identify actions to be taken to prevent a recurrence of the November 2006 event and provide a means of accurately assessing the impacts of upstream (City of Yelm) development in the future.
In 2007 and 2008, formal efforts were initiated to develop Thurston Highlands, a 1200 acre site with 5000 new homes, which would increase the population of Yelm by over 400% in addition to the Tahoma Terra nearly 100% increase.
It does not do much good for Yelm Residents to complain after the fact, about traffic, increased cost of developing additional water ($600,000+ paid by Yelm to investigate water availability within the Thurston Highlands site), increased cost of sewage treatment and other city services.
Residents of Yelm please take a look at your future. Development is a positive thing, but
excessive, rapid development chokes the system and ultimately loads cost on to the citys
Bear in mind, the present economic conditions as they impact the potential for construction of the Yelm By-Pass. At present, completion of construction of the By-Pass is scheduled for 2015, provided that Washington State approves the remaining $60,000,000 of funding required while the State faces a deficit in the billions, and the project has been eliminated from the Obama Incentive Program Funding.
E. A. Wiltsie, PE