Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about the $10 million corridor infrastucture bond. Some seem to have noticed just this past week that the corridor is ripe for development and want to play catch-up now that the dominoes are in place. If you are trying to play catch-up, this post is for you.

Whitman county is not subsidizing the Hawkins project. The reverse is true. Anyone who knows anything about building development knows that water, sewer and roads are neccessary to accomodate people. If any development big or small, locates in the corridor, they will need those three things. Do we want a corridor that has a hodge-podge of septic tanks, wells and driveways, each paid for by the individual landowner or do we want an orderly municipal system that all can tap into and use? "Smart Growth" to me is orderly, with municipal utilities in place, governed locally, logically and fairly. Investors want predictable outcomes, they don't want to invest next to unpredictable neighbors and unpredictable standards.

If we realize that we will have to extend utilities into the corridor and it will cost us $10 million dollars today, what will it cost us tomorrow? Or ten and twenty years from now? And the bigger question, will we have an investor like Hawkins when we decide to make the investment? Right now, we have a major investor in place, willing to help us pay for the infrastusture with tax revenues. We may never have this opportunity again in our lifetimes.

Hawkins does not want to be in the utility business in Whitman county. They are offering to build the public infrastucture and sell it back to us at a reduced cost to help us get into the corridor and help them stay out of the utility business. Hawkins is currently offering to build the infrastucture at a two million dollar loss for the opportunity to invest in Whitman county. Let's not punish them for trying to invest here by demanding a bigger gift.

And lastly, I would like to point out that Bishop Boulevard was built (with utilities) long before any investors showed up. The industrial park was built before Schweitzer. And all of it wouldn't have happened if many years ago, forward thinking Pullman citizens hadn't invested in municipal water, sewer and roads. Now that we have those things, it's fairly easy to develop in Pullman. We need the same for the corridor.

1 comment:

Scotty said...

Great post April. That is the thing I was thinking too. If we put the sewer and water system into the corridor then the ability to build and develope it will greatly increase. That will mean a lot in terms of helping out Whitman County and Pullman.