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Future of city, pathway project discussed


What Electric City could look like in the future was the subject Saturday as about 40 people showed up at the Vet's Center to share their ideas. People were asked to break apart in small groups and discuss items of interest. Most hovered over large aerial prints of the area to see how their ideas would work out. Here, WSU Professor Bob Krikac visits with Coulee Playland employee Lou Nevsimal (pointing from the right) about one of the features on an aerial print. City Councilmember Lonna Bussert is in the left foreground. Electric City Mayor John Nordine II is at the end of the table. - Roger S. Lucas photo

About 40 people showed up Saturday at the Vet's Center to hear and take part in discussions about the revitalization of Electric City.

The meeting, the first of two scheduled, was to get input on what residents would like to see in the future for the city.

Washington State University professor Kathleen Ryan conducted the meeting after Electric City Deputy Clerk Russell Powers explained the reason for the meeting - to get ideas from the public of what they would like to see Electric City become in the future.

Ryan, Professor Bob Krikac, and four students from WSU made up the team from the school's Rural Communities Design Initiative.

The plan is for the WSU team to take the ideas and return in a few weeks with a tentative plan of how the city might proceed. Powers said he thought the next meeting would be in July.

The discussion quickly turned to a proposed pathway and trail system in the city. The design group sought ideas of the components of any trail system as well as thoughts on other parks and city improvements, including sidewalks.

There was strong feeling that the Ice Age story should be told along the trail system so visitors would learn more about the area.

Comments were made about restrooms, picnic tables, possible lighting on the trail, and a station where those with electric cars could recharge their vehicles.

There was concern that a trail system through neighborhoods might produce vandalism, burglaries and scattered debris.

Those are some of the things that the WSU team will try to address before their next meeting here.

The city council has already approved $40,000 from its hotel/motel fund to pay the expenses of the WSU team and for Gray & Osborne, the city's engineering firm, to put a plan together.

The council also set aside $400,000 of hotel/motel funds to be used for matching money for work on phase one of the trail.

Powers had to keep bringing the group back to the purpose of the meeting, to share ideas.

People in the audience wanted answers on how much the trail would cost, where the money would come from and specifics that are not readily available until there's a plan to work from.

Pat Welton, of Sunbanks Lake Resort, stated that he was opposed to any trail system. He said he thought the use of hotel/motel tax money for a trail was inappropriate. It was pointed out by Powers that Welton would have plenty of time to discuss this later in the program, and that this part of the program was to collect ideas from the audience.

Some residents were concerned that any trail system would go between their property and Banks Lake. The Bureau of Reclamation owns land along the shore of Banks Lake and any trail system along the lake would presumably be on Bureau property. Still, nothing has been decided and the WSU team will return in July with more specific ideas.

The people broke up into smaller groups and occupied several tables that were set up with large aerial prints. People were marking where any community trail might go as it wound its way through the city.

The WSU contingent had placed sheets of paper on the walls with different ideas where people marked interest in both a community trail and one proposed as a nature trail along Osborne Bay.

Powers pointed out that any sidewalk project would be funded through grants from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board. Currently, the city does not have any sidewalks through its main business area.

The city's mayor and all five council members were at the meeting.

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