At the regular Port Orford City Council meeting on March 17, Mayor Jim Auborn dismissed his previously appointed effluent subcommittee, which had met twice (in February and March) in meetings not open to the public. The action came immediately following a return to open session from an executive session that was called to address a number of issues, including, apparently, the legal status of the subcommittee. Auborn then properly appointed the subcommittee (of the full council) in open session, naming the original members. They are: Caroline Clancy, Pat Cox, and Tim Pogwidz. Meetings of the subcommittee will be held two Mondays prior to the regular third-Thursday-of-the-month council meeting, at 10 a.m., in the Council Chambers. Subcommittee meetings will be open to the public, and representatives of Elk River Property Development are expected to attend.
During Mayor’s Considerations later in the meeting, Auborn stated that “providing effluent to the golf course could be a very good deal for the city.” He also said that ERPD was ready to spend “three-quarters of a million dollars” to construct a pipeline from Port Orford to the course, and that the city “needs to come to a decision in the next couple of weeks.” Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith echoed these sentiments. He wondered aloud why there was no recommendation yet from the subcommittee and the full council in support of the project. In January, the council passed a resolution simply expressing a willingness to “explore an agreement between the parties for the use of effluent.”
While the golf course has received a conditional use permit from Curry County, there is as yet no agreement between the developer and the City of Port Orford on supplying effluent from the wastewater treatment plant. Nor have the necessary permits yet been received from the state Department of Environmental Quality. Whether any engineering plans, contracts, or other understandings have been advanced by ERPD is unknown. 100 Friends of Port Orford would like these issues to be discussed in widely noticed open meetings, with public comment heard.
Until then, the haste of the mayor and commissioner seems ill advised.