So many people showed up at the Goldendale City Council meeting Monday night that the council adjourned to the church across the street so the estimated 125 to 150 people would have room to all sit down. They were there primarily opposed to the city having anything to do with the Swiss corporation Nestlé, which has caused such controversy in Cascade Locks over a proposal to locate a water bottling plant there.
Some 35 people commented, mostly against mayor Mike Smith’s request to have the council concur with him writing a letter to Nestlé asking them to explore the possibility of such a plant at Goldendale.
One of the strongest voices at the meeting was that of Ethan Jones, attorney for the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. “ Nestlé wants to tap into the cool water that acts as a lifeline for the Columbia River’s fisheries. In July of 2015, water temperatures in the Columbia River consistently topped 70 degrees, which killed over 100,000 fish, in July alone…Taken together, threats to water are threats of genocide to Yakama culture and way of life… We’ve opposed Nestlé facilities in Cascade Locks and Waitsburg and we will do whatever it takes to stop a Nestlé facility from being built in Goldendale.”
Though others spoke in favor of investigating the possibility of 40-50 new jobs and an increased tax base from a $50 million plant, the council decided in the end to do a great deal more research, including the possibility of looking at other bottling companies, before sending any letter of invitation.
The marathon meeting had to be extended three times, finally concluding at 10:15.