What's Up With That? County has no funds to clean, repaint fence

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Who has responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of fencing that surrounds a “water quality filter” zone? In question is the unsightly stretch of fencing on the south side of Northwest Bliss Road, just west of Northwest 21st Ave. This portion of the fence, which happens to be the most visible to neighbors and traffic, could use a good power-washing and a coat of paint.

It’s one of those local government mysteries. Our own neighborhood investigation has not been able to pinpoint (among local Clark County agencies) who has ownership. We do see worker bees in there occasionally, mowing, etc. Most of these zones have metal fencing around them — far more maintainable than wooden ones that need constant upkeep. A little explanation of who owns what would be helpful.— Ann Foster, North Salmon Creek

Having just studied a situation in Brush Prairie where an inactive homeowner association let its stormwater drainage pond go wild with weeds (see the In Your Neighborhood items in today’s paper), this reporter was willing to guess the property belonged to a similarly dormant group of citizens. There are approximately 1,000 county-owned stormwater facilities in the county and another 1,000 private ones that are supposed to be maintained by homeowner associations, according to the county’s clean water program sustainability specialist, Cary Amstrong. But homeowner associations often go quiet, and their common spaces sometimes get neglected.

Wrong: This little slice of real estate is county property.

“It is a Clark County-owned stormwater facility and a Clark County-owned fence,” said Armstrong.

So how about repainting it? Well, here’s where current economic realities come in. The county doesn’t have a lot of extra dough for aesthetic upkeep of this nature, Armstrong said. Not right now.

“The county doesn’t have the funds to be power-washing fences,” said Armstrong. “But if the person who’s interested wants to power-wash or paint the fence, and wants to contact the county about how to get that done, I can help with that.”

Armstrong can be reached at 360-397-2121, ext. 4392.

That may not be the easy answer you’re looking for, Ann, but it sure is a sign of the times. “What’s Up With That?” gets frequent questions from citizens indignant about the rough-looking edges of Clark County -- the weedy medians, the littered shoulders, the tall grass and so forth.

The answer from public officials often is: Yup, times are tough, budgets are shrinking -- and volunteer help is almost always welcome.--Scott Hewitt

Got a question about your neighborhood? We’ll get it answered. Send “What’s Up With That?” questions to neighbors@columbian.com.