Council approves drastic changes

Three of four projects heard by city council were approved for continuation Tuesday night.

By Kyle Kinard

The Pullman City Council approved the continuation of three projects Tuesday night that could change the face of Pullman and the way its residents live.

Following the consent agenda, the council heard four presentations from four organizations looking to make a change in Pullman. The first presentation was given by the SouthEast Washington Economic Development Association. The second was given by Mike Yates, a member of the Pullman Arts Commission regarding their Davis Way beautification project. The project aims to spruce up portions Davis Way and make the main entrance to Pullman more vibrant and welcoming, Yates said.

The project has been in planning phases for nearly two years, he said, and the Arts Commission is ready to see more physical progress.

“What we wanted to do was come up with a plan that basically gives us (the ability to) move forward,” he said. The beautification plan mainly concerns a piece of property along NW Davis Way that locals will know as the former location of a Daily Grind stand. “The plan (for the former Daily Grind location) is basically going to be in three phases,” Yates said. “One: get it cleaned up, get it graded out, make it look good. Two would be to go in and define the space with fencing and landscaping.” Phase three, Yates said, would be for further planning on lot, including the possibility of a welcome sign and a gazebo.

“What we’re (going to) try to do is come up with a plan now where we can actually go in and start making progress in beautifying (that portion of Davis Way),” Yates said.

Yates said the Pullman Community Action Center (CAC) initially said the city could use its portion of the Davis Way lot. However, legal entanglements regarding the lot have slowed progress on the project.

The council granted the Arts Commission the go-ahead to continue planning their Davis Way beautification project, and Yates said he would continue dialogue with the CAC to move forward with the beautification process. Park Superintendent Alan Davis gave a presentation concerning the Lawson Gardens Master Plan Development.

Davis’ presentation proposed the addition of a building along the parking lot above the terraced gardens. An indoor-outdoor space, it would accommodate a gathering of about 150 people.

“Right now we are limited to about 15 weddings a year because of the problems associated with outdoor weddings,” Davis said. “We could really increase the revenue of the park if we were able to get a building on-site.” Davis said Lawson’s vision of the gardens always included a building around that location, but was not built originally due to financial restraints. The council approved Davis’ request for the Lawson Garden Council and Parks and Recreation Committee to approach the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and request tax dollars to pursue construction goals. The final presentation was an update on the Smart Grid Demonstration Project being performed by Avista Utilities in Pullman. According to the Avista website, the project was created “to lay the groundwork for smart grid’s technological advances in the future while making our electric distribution system more efficient and reliable today.” Avista will be using Pullman and other communities as a testing ground for new technologies it may implement in the future. The project is funded by a $20 million state grant aimed at creating jobs and updating infrastructure. “This is truly one of the ways we can marry technology with our customers and our community at large to better understand this demonstration project, and better understand how this technology plays into our future,” said Paul Kimmell, the Palouse regional manager for Avista. The next meeting will be held Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

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