Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Hawkins project: Time for neighbors to be neighborly"

Another bang-up editorial on the Hawkins development from publisher Gordon Forgey in today's Whitman County Gazette:
The Hawkins development on the Pullman-Moscow corridor should not be the cause celebre that it has become.

It idea is simple: Some unused land in Whitman County which lies on the major, just-improved highway between Whitman County and Latah County in Idaho has been selected for the site of a new commercial development.

Whitman County backs the development. It promises the start of a growing tax base for the county. New jobs and new opportunities for locals will come from the development.

Few in Whitman County see a problem with opening up the corridor to development. It is already a busy thoroughfare for interstate traffic, much of it due to the strong retailing base in Moscow, Idaho, just across the border.

The problem is that some in the city of Moscow do not want to see development outside its domain. The mayor of Moscow is leading the charge on trying to stop any new development on the Whitman County portion of the corridor. Water, or actually the supposed lack of it, is the reason being used to styme the development. Moscow has appealed Whitman County water rights transfers to squelch the deal.

Even so, new development in Moscow has not been slowed by the claim of a water shortage. A housing development of over a hundred new homes has been approved and will soon be built despite the claim of a water shortage.

Whitman County helped engineer the water rights transfers. Now, because of Moscow’s interference, the county is looking into public bonding to bring water to the area. It is a new, expensive strategy, but one that may make the development a reality.

With the county’s new strategy on the table, it should appear to those in Moscow that Whitman County is committed to the project and to the potential of the area.

Part of this new strategy should include reaching out to Moscow for a better solution.

Moscow officials also have the opportunity to be good neighbors and to realize that the shared water resources should, in fact, be shared. It is not credible that there is enough water for as yet undefined growth in Moscow while there is none for controlled growth in Whitman County.

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