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Feedback given loudly on EC plan

 

About 45 people turned out Saturday to review initial plans for the revitalization of Electric City, including its proposed trail project. It was the second of two scheduled community meetings to garner ideas and hear from local residents. A WSU group will take all the accumulated comments and prepare a plan for the city council to review. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Electric City's revitalization and pathways project got just a little tougher last Saturday in

the second of two public gatherings designed to pull together ideas on what residents would like to see done in their city.

Apparently, a lot of them like it just the way it is, at least those who showed up Saturday and were the loudest.

About 45 people showed up for the outdoor presentation by city officials and a group from Washington State University's Rural Communities Design Initiative, made up of Washington State University's Assistant Professor Kathleen Ryan and three students.

The WSU group had assisted Soap Lake when that city developed a project just south of Grand Coulee.

At one point Saturday, police were called because Electric City resident Mike Lowry had become disruptive. They told him to stop the shouting. Others were just as loud, turning what was supposed to be an informational meeting into a shouting match.

Deputy City Clerk Russell Powers tried to explain to the group that nothing was cast in stone and that any trail - the rub of the meeting - was not decided on yet. The Star had published a draft document illustration of one of the suggested trail routes, and many in the crowd thought that it had already been decided on.

One resident, who was disruptive, kept shouting to put the trail on the other side of the lake. When asked how people would get to it from Electric City, he didn't have any solution. One person yelled, "swim," but that didn't get anyone's attention.

The fear expressed by several was that the proposed trail system would go by their homes and that all kinds of bad things would occur.

The first meeting held in May had been designed to gather ideas from the community on what they would like to see in the future. The WSU group took those ideas and projected them forward, and returned Saturday to continue the effort. They hardly had a chance, as about a dozen people kept yelling at the presenter.

So the WSU group is back to the drawing board, trying to come up with a plan that will muster enough votes on the city council to become a reality.

Powers explained a number of times that nothing is cast in stone and that there will be several public meetings along the way. Individual projects that come out of the planning sessions would also require public comment periods.

The city has set aside $400,000 of its lodging tax money for tourism promotion to provide matching money for the project to get underway.

The public meetings were more for a revitalization of the city than just a trail system. Two parks are involved, one behind the fire department building, and the other near the arsenic treatment plant. Both plans call for restrooms, and the new park behind the fire department would feature picnicking and a children's play area.

At the park close to the arsenic treatment plant, a near full-sized outdoor basketball court is suggested.

Sidewalks, ways to promote the area's Ice Age history, a possible mammoth sculpture featured at an entry to the city, and many other ideas have been expressed.

Tourism was also a feature of the revitalization plan. Saturday, those yelling the loudest were against trying to lure visitors to the area.

Powers said that the city will likely have one more community meeting before a plan is finally drawn.

A community committee, named by the council, will look at plans put together by the WSU group and make recommendations to the full council.

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