“There is no positive thing that could happen from taking a position [on the Columbia River Crossing].”
This opinion expressed last night by Washougal City Councilman Paul Greenlee accurately, and simply encapsulates why the Washougal City Council shouldn’t be spending its valuable public meeting time discussing the always controversial CRC project.
Yet, that is exactly what it has done.
At the insistence of several of its members, the Washougal City Council to date has dedicated a portion of at least three of its meetings as well as one town hall style event to hashing and rehashing the issues and opinions surrounding the CRC. This is despite the fact that ultimately, as a government body, it will have little to no impact on whether the project moves forward. This is a decision that will be made by state legislators.
The recent CRC discussions in Washougal started during a workshop on Feb. 25, when Councilman Dave Shoemaker proposed that a portion of the city’s first quarterly Saturday town hall meeting should be spent on presentations by CRC advocates and detractors, and acceptance of public comment on the issue.
That town hall occurred on March 9, followed by additional council discussion on the CRC during workshops on March 11 and then again last night when a three-page resolution opposing the project was on the agenda. That document is no longer being considered, but a revised, shorter resolution will be presented at the City Council’s April 8 meeting.
This question looms: Why is this amount of focus on the CRC by the Washougal City Council necessary?
To make the answer short and simple: It’s not.
There is no doubt that the proposed $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing project to replace the current I-5 Bridge is an important regional issue. Over the course of several years, it has been a topic of discussion at more meetings and events, in Clark County and beyond, than one could count.
But in the end, the Washougal City Council really won’t have a say in whether the CRC is built. With this in mind, our local elected officials would be wise to focus on discussing the issues and finding solutions to the problems that they truly have control over. There are no shortage of them. Meanwhile, they should stop wasting their time on those that are outside of their power.