[Vision2020] Alturas again

Mike Curley curley@turbonet.com
Mon, 22 Sep 2003 12:36:27 -0700

B. J. and others:
It is so easy to turn any question or comment about Alturas into a "look at all the 
benefits" answer--and leave the question or comment completely unanswered.
The discussion THIS time has to do with CHANGING the "rules" related to Alturas.  It has
nothing to do with "should we have an Alturas Park" or does it currently provide a
benefit.  And, it's also a tar baby to talk about movement out of downtown, because the
issue has to do with tax financing, not how downtown is impacted.  Whether the 
and accountants would have moved out of downtown doesn't matter.  Only if they 
would have
taken their business completely out of the city--pretty doubtful in either case--would
their move to Alturas have "saved" any jobs. While you speak broadly of the intent being
to "diversify the economic base" of the city, the Zoning Code said that offices would be
permitted at Alturas if they are: "...intended to support the research and technology
purposes of the zoning district."  The complaint that has been repeatedly glossed over is
that the offices that moved there did not meet the definition.   If the definitions are
being rewritten, now is the chance to actually tighten that definition.  I should note
that the current ordinance ALLOWS: financial services (but not banks or S&Ls) 
One eating/drinking establishment per 25 acres (drive-throughs prohibited) Day care
facilities Cafeterias

There are TWENTY specifically prohibited uses including retail sales, residences, 
motels/hotels, and heavy manufacturing.

It is no doubt time to make take another look at the rules related to the zone, including
making the existing rules more clear and subject to more rigorous enforcement.  

Alturas is here to stay and is being financed in part by tax money.  Everyone knew that
from the beginning.  It was supposed to be financed by tax money from research and
technology and related and supporting businesses.  We've swerved away from that to some
extent, which upset a number of people--most of whom support the Alturas concept (and I am
included in that group).  It makes sense for the community to be involved in a discussion
of what the new "rules" should be.  

I hope we are able to listen to one another carefully, put down are fingers (and stop
pointing at one another), and not be quite as defensive.  And I also hope we can be honest
enough to simply admit that taxes help fund Alturas (without having to simultaneously
provide a comprehensive statement of the its value to the community) and admit that uses
like cafeterias and day care centers were always permitted there.

Mike Curley

On 21 Sep 03, at 19:52, B. J. Swanson wrote:

Send reply to:  	<bjswan@moscow.com>
From:           	"B. J. Swanson" <bjswan@moscow.com>
To:             	"Tim Lohrmann" <timlohr@yahoo.com>, <jdanahy@turbonet.com>
Copies to:      	<vision2020@moscow.com>
Subject:        	RE: [Vision2020] Alturas again
Date sent:      	Sun, 21 Sep 2003 19:52:43 -0700

> Tim & John,
> The Alturas Park zoning is RTO:  Research, Technology, Office.  It is not
> and has never been only Research and Technology.  The original intent of
> Alturas Park was to diversify the economic base of Moscow and provide living
> wage jobs that were not directly dependent on the University of Idaho or
> Washington State University (also tax supported entities).  Alturas has done
> that.
> It would have been ideal for a private investor to develop Alturas.  We
> tried for four years to find a private investor to do it without any takers.
> Diversifying the economy of a one industry town is very difficult at best
> and takes years of work.  A much longer timeframe than any private investor
> was willing to take.  Alturas was a long-term investment in jobs.  It
> succeeded on a limited scale but probably not to the point any private
> investor would be willing to step in and buy it even now.  Private investors
> and developers don't seem to be beating down the door.  Private investment
> in jobs didn't happen in Pullman or Lewiston either so they are doing or
> have done similar projects.  Think of where Schweitzer Engineering started.
> Would you prefer that Alturas was not there and those jobs would have gone
> to Pullman, Lewiston or beyond?
> The few businesses that relocated out of downtown would have relocated
> elsewhere anyway because of parking.   The 80+ jobs at Alturas and $3.5
> million in annual salaries probably support the downtown merchants more than
> an attorney or accountant leasing office space on Main Street.  We have a
> great downtown (see the Tribune today) and it's the jobs and salaries of
> local people that sustain it.
> B. J. Swanson
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