In their post-election wasteland, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development struggles to remain relevant. To that end, PARDner Jane Damm wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Ms. Damm responded to Chuck Millham's recent allegations that PARD is all about negativity and offers no positive alternatives.
After reading her proposals, I wish PARD would stick with just being negative.
PARD and Ms. Damm propose that controlled growth take place in three areas: the land adjacent to the Port of Whitman Industrial Park owned by Schweitzer Engineering Labs, south of town on the road to Lewiston, and on Bishop Boulevard. They propose one or maybe two chain stores not found in Moscow be built. After PARD learned in the election that Pullman voters DON'T want to keep exporting tax dollars to Idaho, their arguments are now reductio ad absurdum, going from advocating "smart growth" to fight "urban sprawl" to "we'll take a little sprawl just as long as it's not Wal-Mart".
First of all, it's the free market and developers with their capital that determine what will and won't be built. The sheer unadulterated arrogance of these people is stunning. They have no money. They have no business experience. But now presumably the PARD/Moscow Civic Association cabal will discern what town gets which store. Unbelievable.
An important point to note is this: EPS, when conducting a big box study from Bozeman, MT, found that one big box store generates twice as much taxable revenue as five smaller stores of the same combined size. Therefore, it stands to reason that the one "moderately" sized, PARD-endorsed chain store would only generate a tenth of the revenue that a Wal-Mart Supercenter would generate. Bigger really is better.
PARD's "proposal" also does not address the national chain supermarket monopoly that Pullman is currently enduring. This is the monopoly that drives WSU international students to take the Wheatland Express over to Moscow and walk a mile to and from the Kibbie Dome to shop at WinCo. But why would it? We already have a nice overpriced and unionized Safeway in town.
The SEL land is not being planned for dense retail, but rather mixed residential and retail, so it would not be an acceptable substitute for a Wal-Mart. Remember, this whole battle is about increasing our retail sales tax base. And what is PARD's fascination with the road to Lewiston? Lewiston/Clarkston residents comprise only a tiny fraction of Pullman shoppers, as their retail choices are considerably greater down in the valley. The south part of town is also the farthest away from students. One of the reasons that Target rejected the proposal to move into the old Safeway building was that there was not enough traffic in that part of town.
I'm a bit confused by Damm's reaffirmation of Bishop Boulevard for retail development, something the city decided on almost three decades ago. The last time PARD Chairman T.V. Reed descended from the mount to impart his wisdom to us, did he not say, and I quote: "A Target, if of modest size and located away from Bishop Boulevard..."? Do I smell a flip-flop? I know PARD's logic is painfully twisted, but this is even more incoherent than usual. How does putting a "chain store" on Bishop, even a "modest" one, not have all the same problems PARD is currently appealing (i.e. traffic effects on the retirement home, the schools, the hospital, the cemetery, light pollution, etc.) with Wal-Mart?
PARD claims to have contacted a number of such stores and received "positive responses". Give me a break. That would be the equivalent of Jerry Falwell contacting al-Jazeera and asking for permission to run the "Old Time Gospel Hour" on their network.
PARD also wants development in the "moribund" areas on both sides of the Cordova. Excuse me??? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't PARD recently before the Pullman Board of Adjustment fighting the move of the Pullman Foursquare Church into the Cordova Theatre by claiming that there wasn't enough parking and that would negatively affect the businesses nearby??
Damm concluded her letter by saying that "we" shouldn't "replicate what we have eight miles away". First of all, who is "we"? She should have said what MOSCOW has eight miles away, what IDAHO has eight miles away, or what a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TAX JURISDICTION has eight miles away. Why don't the PARDners just move over to Moscow and be done with it? Yes, I'm officially asking now that they be run out of town. They can continue their "class struggle" over there with the Moscow Supercenter. I'm sick and tired of their pedagogic inanity.
Who wouldn't want to replicate the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that Wal-Mart and WinCo collect from Pullman shoppers IN PULLMAN?