Roy residents voice concerns about water quality, safety in city

Councilors, citizens shoot down outdoor athletic facilities grant idea


Roy city councilors kicked off their study session on Monday, June 10, with a discussion about the possibility of new community outdoor athletic facilities in town that would be funded by a grant.

What followed was a near hour-long debate between councilors and citizens that spilled into the council’s regular meeting about how the City must focus on more pressing matters rather than consider new ones. During their study session, Mayor Kimber Ivy, who appeared briefly before leaving as she is on maternity leave, said a resolution would be on the agenda for her to enter into an agreement with Forever Green Trails to provide technical grant application services to Roy for the recreation and conservation office’s 2024 community outdoor athletic facilities grant in the amount of $1.2 million.

Councilors immediately shot down the idea, explaining that the current issues in the city are still unsolved, including water quality, security, infrastructure and lack of revenue.

Ivy said the facilities, if approved and if the city received the grant monies, would have taken several years to build and would have been rented by sports teams from around the region. Renderings showed fields for baseball, football and soccer, as well as pickleball courts. Ivy argued that the facilities, albeit in several years, would be a revenue option for Roy.

Councilors William Starks and Jim Rotondo rebutted that Roy does not have any hotels or many restaurants for teams to visit after games or practices and that they would likely travel to other cities for such services.

“This is not the answer. I don’t know what is. That’s not up to me. It’s up to the whole city,” Rotondo said. “I don’t know how much money this thing can make, if any, but I’ll be dead and gone and won’t have to worry about it because I don’t see this thing making a profit for quite some time. I’m talking 15 to 20 years.”

Nine citizens spoke to the council during the regular meeting about their concerns regarding the water quality and the lack of police officers in town, especially on nights and weekends.

Resident Patty Haver voiced her displeasure for how the council has shown a need for something new in town when there are other issues that should be prioritized.

“There’s issues with water, parking, the property of the railroad, the police department, and we’re looking and focusing on other things,” she said. “Why are we not looking for funds and applications specifically for those things? How do we take on projects when we don’t have answers for them? We need to fix the water situation. It’s bad. I don’t drink it. I don’t even want to bathe in it. And fix the doggone park, for Pete’s sake.”

The City of Roy voted in April to enter into an agreement with FCS Group to move forward with a water rate study for Roy within estimated cost of proposal and budgetary parameters. Ivy said the council is also working toward building another water reservoir, and the City has requested $15 million from the Legislature to invest in the water issues. The City also plans to apply for a grant in November, but it requires 51% of the population to be low to moderate income.

Four women also spoke to the council about their concerns regarding increased crime in Roy and the surrounding areas. Gail Herlitzka said they started their own “policing organization” because the city doesn’t have any officers at night that can come up and assist them with cars racing up and down the road in the middle of the night.

“The ladies and I started our own neighborhood watch group. We put up posters trying to deter people, saying this is a neighborhood watch. We all have each other’s phone numbers, and we have a Facebook page where we keep in contact with each other,” she said. “If there was someone sitting across from a vacant house for an hour, I’ll go up there and say, ‘Can I help you?’ And if they don’t have a good reason, I tell them to hit the road. I’m putting my life at risk confronting people, but I can’t sit back and just let it happen and not say anything because then they know that nobody’s gonna say or do anything.”

Shannon Foster also cited a “tweaker lot” just outside of city limits that is responsible for the poaching of deer. She explained that local businesses, homes and vehicles have been robbed and vandalized on multiple occasions, and people have left wrecked and abandoned vehicles on the railroad gravel parking lot.

“I’ve actually heard people say that it’s OK to commit crimes on nights or weekends in Roy because we don’t have any police during those times,” Foster said. “It boggles my mind when I see police departments working in our area from different counties. We need more officers. We need to know that when our sleepy little town goes to bed at night that our Roy superheroes are out here keeping our community safe. I know we’re not a huge city, but we’re ending up with huge city problems because our rural little community is where they go to do their dirty work due to the fact that no one is watching.”

Alexandria Hall added that her home and her husband’s vehicle were recently vandalized and that someone on a motorcycle threw an explosive near 280th Street and Academy Street.

“We need to open up our eyes and look at the nonsense that’s going on right under our nose. We need night and weekend patrols. We need more officers because if this continues to spiral out of control, it’s going to be worse than it already is,” Hall said.

After several residents voiced their concerns about a property on Academy Street, Roy Police Chief Paul Antista took to the podium to explain that, while the property is not within city limits, he has investigated it. He said that a large majority of the city’s problems are coming from the property, which he added is run by “not your normal, dumb criminals.”

“We’ve followed cars from there. We come to stop them, and they’re full of undesirables,” Antista said. “There was a car that led us in a short pursuit. Pierce County helped us out and we stopped them. We also arrested somebody who had stolen property out of their car. We have four residents in the city that we’ve identified so far that are all involved in this, and if I can tie all of this together, I’m gonna be writing five search warrants within the city.”

Antista added that Pierce County doesn’t often help the Roy Police Department when they contact them for help, and the county sent Roy a new contract that asks for $230 per call, up from $112, for the county to answer calls when the Roy officers are unavailable.

“I’m not a mathematician, but for that $100 extra a month, I can get a reserve officer here. If that takes away one or two calls, then he’s already paid for himself,” he said. “What I’m looking for is somebody to work weekends and nights.”

After the meeting, Antista said the citizens watch group should not approach criminals and should call Roy Police or Pierce County.

“They shouldn’t be going out there taking it into their own hands. They should be calling us. The problem is if it’s not our area, it’s Pierce County, so when they’re calling, they’re not getting the results they want,” he said. “I told them the best thing to do is to keep calling. They’ll come eventually. Pierce County is very short handed, so when I see stuff like that, I have to take care of it because it affects our city.”

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, July 8, at Roy City Hall.