October 23, 1997 in Washington Voices

Verbal Fur Flying In Sewer District Race

By The Spokesman-Review
 

When Liberty is at stake, a sewer district race can get stinky.

Take the contest between Frank Boyle and Larry West six years ago. At one point, supporters of the two Liberty Lake Sewer District commissioner candidates nearly came to blows.

This year, the blows are verbal, but the passions are just as strong as the incumbent Boyle faces a new opponent, John Mellick.

Development is the most contentious issue of this race. Boyle’s fellow commissioner, Bob Gamble, has openly endorsed the challenger. He also has called Boyle a “radical” who views developers as “bad guys.”

Boyle admits he worries about the impact of development on the pollution-prone Liberty Lake.

“I’m really concerned about growth in the watershed, that it be limited so we can protect what we’ve got,” he said.

Boyle’s opponent has taken a moderate stand. Mellick, a mortgage broker, says he falls somewhere between Boyle and Gamble on the issue of development.

“Growth is inevitable,” Mellick said. “I think they’ve done a good job of managing it.”

Liberty Lake Sewer District’s three-member board of commissioners controls water and sewer access in the area, enforces stormwater regulations and oversees the ongoing effort to keep the lake’s water clean.

Mellick, a 25-year resident of Liberty Lake, said he decided to run after several people told him about the opening.

“I was feeling support from a lot of people,” he said, “and I feel a little bit of civic responsibility.” Mellick said Gamble did not recruit him to run for the position. He’s known Gamble for many years and went to school with one of Gamble’s daughters, but said he isn’t a personal friend of the commissioner.

Mellick believes he could bring youthful energy and geographic balance to the commission. Unlike the current commissioners, who all live close to the lake, Mellick has a home in MeadowWood, near much of the area’s new development.

If elected, one of Mellick’s priorities would be getting the lake’s clogged drainage channel cleaned out. He believes the district should search for federal, state and other funding for the $400,000 project.

Boyle agrees that outside funding should be sought, but worries that repairs may not be able to wait for such funding to be secured. He’s willing to consider loans or district funds if necessary, he said.

Boyle, a customer service supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service, said he has three major goals if he’s elected.

He would like to construct a new administrative building to replace the one the district has outgrown. He would like to get permit approval to double the sewage treatment plant’s 1 million-gallon capacity.

And he wants to reduce stormwater, runoff and point pollution to the lake.

Boyle also would like to increase the sewer district’s authority to regulate remodeling projects. Currently, such projects aren’t held to the same stormwater standards as new development.

Boyle, who has lived in Liberty Lake for 17 years, said his biggest priority is preserving the lake. He and Gamble have butted heads on the issue repeatedly.

“If we have a commission that is in favor of growth management, that will have an influence on the county,” Boyle said.

If he’s defeated, Boyle worries that Gamble may try to get the Urban Growth Boundaries altered to favor more development.

“(Gamble) believes the whole lake should be urbanized and people should be able to build on their land however they want,” Boyle said.

“This place is in my heart. I want to see it preserved.”

, DataTimes MEMO: See individual profiles by name of candidate

This sidebar appeared with the story:

MORE RACES

Along with the Liberty Lake Sewer District commissioner race, there are several Spokane Valley water district commissioners up for election next month. The East Spokane Water District, Spokane County Water District No. 3 and Irvin Water District each has one spot open on its board. Each term runs for six years.

See individual profiles by name of candidate

This sidebar appeared with the story: MORE RACES Along with the Liberty Lake Sewer District commissioner race, there are several Spokane Valley water district commissioners up for election next month. The East Spokane Water District, Spokane County Water District No. 3 and Irvin Water District each has one spot open on its board. Each term runs for six years.


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