[Vision2020] Moscow & Pullman councils, staff meet

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Jul 23 03:11:40 PDT 2015

Courtesy of today's (July 24, 2015) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Moscow & Pullman councils, staff meet
First such talk in 10 years finds agreement on many issues
Amid the sounds of people enjoying an evening in Pullman's Kruegel Park on Wednesday night, about 20 city officials from Pullman and Moscow sat together under a picnic shelter for the first meeting of its kind in a decade.
Elected officials and department heads from both cities talked about an agreed-upon list of topics: marijuana, water, economic development, emergency response and, of course, the airport.
Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson described a previous experience in February 2005 in a somewhat sour tone: "Some of us remember it well."
Officials were at odds over various issues, and some were highly vocal about their displeasure.
However, Glenn went on to say officials from both cities have been meeting in smaller groups for years about a variety of mutual concerns and that he has particularly enjoyed working with Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert on numerous tasks needed to ultimately improve the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
"The Palouse is such a special place" Lambert said.
With University of Idaho and Washington State University - two research universities within 8 miles of each other - it's an unusual region with many "bright people here," he said.
Pete Dickinson, Pullman planning director, talked about how Washington's new marijuana rules are affecting zoning issues since legalization of recreational use. Two retail stores operate there now, and the city could add one more. There is some space allocated for production and processing, but no such businesses have set up in town.
The 1,000-foot buffer required along sensitive areas "takes out quite a bit of the town," Dickinson said.
That includes most places where children might congregate, such as schools, parks, libraries, recreation, transit areas and businesses with offerings slanted toward youths.
Police and fire officials from Pullman and Moscow said the looser marijuana laws regarding possession haven't caused significant changes.
Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said complaints about marijuana smoke coming from a neighbor's home have become civil matters among tenants and landlords or property owners. The drug can't be used in public, and people are adhering to the law.
There hasn't been a jump in marijuana-related traffic offenses, either. Work to develop a portable device for law enforcement to measure levels of THC in a suspect's blood continues, he said.
Moscow Police Chief David Duke also said the new Washington marijuana rules haven't caused additional problems in enforcement in this section of Idaho.
The number of drug calls and vehicle accidents have actually gone down, possibly because people aren't using it and then going out on the road.
Mike Heston, Pullman fire chief, said alcohol is still the major problem, except when a few students "freak out after using (marijuana) for the first time."
And Brian Nickerson, Moscow's fire chief said alcohol also predominates their service calls related to intoxicated people. They have seen a few heroin overdoses recently, however.
Moscow Councilor Dan Carscallen pointed out that alcohol calls have gone down since University of Idaho has stepped up education about its use.
Both cities are highly involved in water conservation issues with the Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee along with the universities and Latah and Whitman counties.
While Moscow takes a more regulatory stance with water use by its customers, Pullman relies more on education and incentives, though there are a lot of commonalities and shared concerns, said Mark Workman, Pullman city supervisor.
Les MacDonald, Moscow's public works director, talked about how the PBAC is creating a database with research done over 30 years and that the groundwater management plan was recently updated.
Moscow and surrounding Idaho communities are preparing for the upcoming water rights adjudication process.
For both cities, the solution will be to find supplemental water sources, he said.
How adjudication might affect Washington locations that share water sources with Idaho communities will likely be an issue. The lack of aquifer recharge will remain a concern, said Pullman Councilor Nathan Weller.
Airport improvements will be key because the region doesn't have an interstate highway, waterway or railroad and are something the region "needs collectively," Lambert said.
"We need to get the runway out of the way of Moscow Mountain," Johnson said. "It's the No. 1 project in seven states because it's a safety issue."
Getting a larger terminal is the next project for the airport. Some dirt being moved as part of the runway project will be used to help with that future work.
Johnson and Lambert both expressed confidence in strong participation by the other stakeholders, such as the universities, counties and large private businesses.
"It's like juggling balls," Lambert said. "We know we're heading in the right direction."
Lambert said the two cities clearly "won't let 10 years go by" before they meet this way again.
Johnson agreed, commenting that the meeting was "refreshingly beautiful" and something they "probably would do again."


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares"
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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