Administrators at the City of Aberdeen have reached an agreement with three people who filed a federal lawsuit over access to city property along the Chehalis River.
Federal Judge Robert Leighton recently approved an Order jointly submitted by the City of Aberdeen and the three which the city says resolves access issues to the River Street property. The group agreed that life-safety, public safety, and public welfare concerns warrant restrictions on access to the property.
Filed in November by the Reverend Sarah Monroe, April Obi Boling, and Tim Quigg, the lawsuit claimed the city is violating freedoms of speech and religious expression by restricting access to the site.
The City said they will continue to provide this restricted access until such time as the property is entirely closed to the public. There are no plans to immediately take such action.
Specifically, visitors following rules of conduct are generally allowed to enter the property on foot between the hours of 8am and 8pm daily. In certain emergency circumstances, visitors are also allowed to enter the property on foot and are required to call the emergency “9-1-1” number so that our public safety agencies are informed and can respond appropriately.
The only approved access to the property remains through the unimproved City right-of-way along the northeast corner of the property. The City will not interrupt deliveries of food, clothing, health and hygiene products, and fuel/firewood; fuel and firewood may only be brought in to be used in approved manners (i.e. equipment used according to manufacturers’ specifications or approved fire pits). Supervised vehicle access for the purpose of delivering those items will be allowed through the gate at the access point on Tuesdays between 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm, and Thursdays between 9 and 11 am. A city employee will staff the gate, and vehicles that have not exited by the time the gates close are subject to tow at the owner’s expense.
Continuing access by any visitor requires compliance with the following agreed rules of conduct:
- Obey all laws;
- Do not bring alcohol or weapons onto the property;
- Only bring drugs or medicines as prescribed by a doctor for the visitor, or for the individual being visited on-site;
- Only be on or cross rail tracks at designated crossings, and otherwise stay 45 feet from any rail cars;
- Use City-provided portable toilets and trash containers;
The city said in order to maintain life-safety, public safety, and public welfare they will enforce the agreed rules of conduct which may include removal from the property, preventing future access to the property, and/or pursuing other legal remedies.