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City commits future tourism funds to trail


Electric City took a giant step forward toward building a proposed multi-million dollar walking trail last week when the city council set aside $400,000 of the city’s hotel/motel tax funds to help pay for the project.

City Clerk Jackie Perman noted that the $400,000 includes some future contributions to the fund. Currently, Electric City has $344,000 in its lodging fund. The city receives between $60,000 and $70,000 a year from motels and campgrounds that collect the tax, authorized by state law to promote tourism.

The resolution passed with a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Lonna Bussert casting the lone dissenting vote.

Earlier in the Jan. 12 council meeting, during the public comment period, Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce President Kerry Higgins had cautioned the council not to do this, asserting, “it is not an appropriate use of the funds.”

The trail system idea was started last spring by Councilmember Brad Parrish and slowly gained momentum during the ensuing months.

In December the council voted $40,000 from the lodging fund to finance the help of the Rural Communities Design Initiative team from Washington State University to lead the community meetings and make a report to the city. The professor/student team will receive $5,000 to cover their expenses.

The remaining part of the $40,000 will pay for the trail plan that is being handled by the city’s engineering firm, Gray & Osborne.

A gathering of trail stakeholders was set for today, Jan. 20, at Coulee Medical Center’s conference room, at 1 p.m.

Parrish said at the Jan. 12 council meeting that the WSU team would complete its report by April and that he hoped to go after grants to help finance the project this year.

Parrish told the council that the city would have a much better chance to receive grant monies if it had money set aside for any matching funding needed. He stated that many grants require matching funds ranging from 20 to 50 percent.

Phase one of the trail project would be from Coulee Playland to North Dam Park, a stretch of the proposed trail area that now puts pedestrians and bikers in a dangerous stretch of highway.

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