Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stalking Heron, Hidden Agenda

No sooner do I mention the theme park mentality that I have observed on the Palouse, than two writers submit letters to the Daily News amply illustrating that attitude.

Here's an excerpt from one:
Pullman and Moscow have individual identities along with unique businesses and restaurants. Why do we want them to become just any small town U.S.A., complete with sprawl, strip, and low quality of life? Let's put a stop to these sprawling developments that spring up overnight. Let's maintain our autonomy by saying "no" to the big box find-them-anywhere businesses. Let's keep the Palouse a distinctive place, one that we can be proud of.

We have the opportunity now to plan our towns in such a way that could mimic the charm of European cities. These are on the whole unique and vibrant, with downtowns that provide good shopping choices, year-round markets, public transportation, green parks, and walking and biking areas. Our opportunity to align with them is now. Let's not destroy it with business as usual decisions about growth and development.
So in addition to "Frontierland" and "Main Street USA," we can add "Busch Gardens Europe" to the list of theme parks that our local elitists want Pullman and Moscow to emulate.

One small point, that I have made before: Pullman and Moscow ALREADY HAVE dozens of "local" national chain stores and restaurants, including two Safeways, two Rite Aids, Macy's, Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, Hastings, Michael's Jo-Ann Fabrics, ShopKo, Barnes & Noble, Radio Shack, Blockbuster and numerous Starbucks and McDonalds. It is topography, flora and fauna, climate, language, accents, culture, etc. that make regions "distinctive," not stores. Why do people get so hung up on that?. If you crave a place with no chain stores so badly, then move to Anatone. Studies have shown that college students want chain stores and restaurants and a more urban environment, and that's what Pullman and Moscow have to provide as the home of two major universities.

Then there was this letter that really made me laugh out loud:
Pullman needs creative planning

I would like to join Lennis Boyer in applauding the column by Katherine Meier, (Town Crier, Feb. 28). Meier decries the loss of beautiful natural areas in our neighborhoods with little or no advance notice, as building projects mushroom throughout Pullman. The partially filled wetland she mentions had previously created a charming view from the Aquatic Center weight room, from which I once watched as a stately heron stalked along the tiny brook, and rabbits played in the meadow. Such amenities are few and far between in Pullman, and we should do more to treasure and save them. We can hope the finished housing development will maximize the effectiveness of the remaining wetland.

Meier also mentions the new strip mall on Bishop Boulevard. It is replacing a calm, tree-filled riverside meadow with small businesses. These may well be desirable additions to our tax rolls and consumer options, but they also reduce the natural beauty around us, replacing the extraordinary with the ordinary. We need both. Affordable housing and a vital economy for a growing population are necessities, but can't we be more creative in our planning and provide both roofs over our heads and sustenance for our spirits?

Mary Carloye, Moscow
So let's now add "Disney's Animal Kingdom" to the list.

"A stately heron stalked along the tiny brook, and rabbits played in the meadow?" "A calm, tree-filled riverside meadow?" "Sustenance for our spirits?" Bwwhahahahahahahahhahahha! My side hurts!! This is too over-the-top, even for the treehugging liberals. The only thing "creative" about this letter is Carloye's writing.

First of all, the view out of the weight room at the Pullman Aquatics Center is mostly of Jim Logan's house, yard, and garden. Impressive, but hardly "charming." And no wetland is being filled in, God forbid. Wurgler Marsh is untouched by this development. In any case, the owners of the land being developed are not obligated to preserve Carloye's view while she works out, unless of course Carloye is willing to buy the land herself and then pay property taxes on it each year. She fails to mention that the development is adding desperately needed family housing to Pullman. What is more desirable? A place where one can hear the laughter of children playing in their own backyard or watching rabbits play? Remember, the place Carloye is talking about was just a run-of the-mill, weed-infested field, not a wildlife preserve. Don't worry the cute little bunnies will still roam freely, as will the moose, the deer, the cougars, and the packs of coyotes on Military Hill.

As far as Crimson Village goes, how "calm" was that area to begin with, as it is directly adjacent to traffic on Bishop Blvd? The trees in the "riverside meadow" were planted by the city, not Johnny Appleseed. And it's not Moscow's tax rolls and consumer options, it's Pullman's, thank you very much. Go complain about the new Goodwill building next to the mall. It would be just as applicable and infinitely more appropriate for a Moscow resident.

Carolye's comments clearly demonstrate the fraud that is our local "smart growth" movement. If they are against development in small vacant lots in ALREADY DEVELOPED AREAS, i.e. "urban infill," the mantra of true "smart growth," then they are really against ALL growth. Neither project she cites represents "sprawl" in any way. This kind of highly romanticized and poetic moonbattery is also what gives environmentalists and conservationists a bad name. No one is going to take objections like Carloye's seriously.

On a side note, The FON (Friends of Nancy) have now submitted one Town Crier column and two letters to the editor in defense of the embattled Mayor of Moscow. Nice try, but it's not going to help any with the Whitman County Commissioners.


April E. Coggins said...

Isn't it curious that Moscow's anti-Pullman/Whitman County growthers can't recruit anyone who actually vote here? Their very transparent letter writing campaign seems to be testing the wind pattern to see if a lawsuit against Pullman and Whitman County residents will be supported by Moscow and Latah County residents. The fools are testing for wind patterns over here while ignoring the brewing thunderstorm in their own town.

uiprof said...

I'm afraid, if we would build just one more store around here, that would completely exterminate the cute bunnies from the Palouse! I'm sure, some individuals (N.C.)would be willing to designate Pullman and Whitman County as a bunny-preservation area...

April E. Coggins said...

Uiprof: You know how well bunny fields are sustaining the sound of crickets. Heaven knows that I can sustain myself with the sound of crickets and knowing that my Palouse bunny fields are safe. Is there anyway Dissmores will take my Al Gore enviromentally approved "off-set" as a credit for food?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Tom: "It is topography, flora and fauna, climate, language, accents, culture, etc. that make regions "distinctive," not stores. Why do people get so hung up on that?."

Good question! After all, this is the same crowd that is supposed to be against consumerism, right? So why do they pin their individual identities to the identities of the shops in town?

Am I expecting too much of them again?

April E. Coggins said...

Paul, no the elitists expect their products and services to simply appear at their door step, like magic. These are people who don't want to know about their plumber or electrician, and worse yet, live next door to one or have their children attend the same school. How humiliating it must be to spend thousands of dollars on a college education and then find the best house you can afford is next to a plumber or horrors of horrors, next door to someone who works for Wal-Mart.