Lewis and Clark residents sue county over road district funds

Nicole Bales, The Daily Astorian, Ore.
·2 min read

May 4—Concerned Friends for Clatsop County, a group that formed to challenge plans to relocate the public works facility to Lewis and Clark, is now suing the county.

The group, in a lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in April, alleges the county has misappropriated funds received for Clatsop County Road District No. 1 and intends to use the money for unpermitted purposes.

The county declined to comment on the suit.

Mike Sargetakis, a Portland attorney representing Concerned Friends for Clatsop County, said the group filed the lawsuit in an effort to find answers.

"Concerned Friends had exhausted themselves trying to locate where these funds are going and what these tax dollars have been spent on," he said. "And there's been no consistent answer from the county as to whether or how that money can be spent. So this is an effort to get the clarity that we need to make sure that the taxpayers' tax money is being properly handled."

Neighbors in Lewis and Clark formed Concerned Friends for Clatsop County last summer in response to the county's Resiliency Project, which involved plans to move the public works facility on Olney Avenue in Astoria and establish alternative routes to prepare for a disaster.

The county identified the 50-acre Warrenton Fiber sort yard for the relocation, and the nearby Lewis and Clark Mainline, a private logging road that runs parallel to U.S. Highway 101 and Lewis and Clark Road, as an alternative route.

Neighbors who challenged the project believe the construction of an alternative route would fundamentally change the landscape of the rural area and invite new development.

Last fall, the county decided not to pursue the northern portion of the Lewis and Clark Mainline — a portion residents use for recreation — but residents continued to challenge the project.

Earlier this year, the county scaled the project back to focus on relocating the public works facility without the alternative routes.

The county reset the project in January, hiring a consultant, Mackenzie, to conduct a facility needs assessment and help identify the best place to relocate the public works facility. Mackenzie evaluated the sort yard, as well as other potential sites, including those the county had previously considered but ruled out.

The county expects to review the findings during a public meeting in June.