MOSCOW - While construction on the controversial Hawkins Companies shopping center has yet to begin, officials took an important step here Monday toward sealing a deal to supply water to the development.
Members of the Moscow Public Works Committee agreed to forward to Whitman County officials a draft joint powers agreement. Such an agreement is apparently necessary before the Idaho Department of Water Resources will consider allowing Moscow to provide water services over the state line to Hawkins.
Committee members Walter Steed, John Weber and Wayne Krauss questioned the need for the agreement, but decided to let the Whitman County commissioners review the draft before forwarding it to the full Moscow City Council for consideration.
"Undoubtedly Whitman County is going to have some items that they want to address," Krauss said.
Among other things, the eight-page draft proposes formation of a three-member governing board to oversee allocation of Moscow's water into the state of Washington. Two board members would be from Moscow's city council and one from the Whitman commission, according to the draft.
Jeff De Voe, spokesman for Hawkins, could not be reached for comment. He said more than two months ago the shopping center would be built regardless of whether a water deal could be reached with Moscow. The company already has water rights in Whitman County.
But De Voe also said at the time construction would likely begin in June and a ribbon-cutting might be conducted to announce start of the 714,000-square-foot complex. As of Monday, only a Hawkins sign reading "Coming Soon Major Shopping Center" indicated anything imminent at the site.
The shopping center, reportedly to be anchored by a Lowe's home improvement center, is designed to accommodate three so-called big box stores and eight smaller retailers. Whitman County officials have touted the project as the beginning of retail development in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. The site is located immediately across the border from Moscow and butts up to city water lines.
Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney appealed Hawkins' attempts to transfer water rights in Washington to supply the shopping center. The mayor reasoned the complex threatened the aquifer that supplies the Palouse. But an agreement was eventually reached for Moscow to supply Hawkins' water needs.
Chaney and Councilor Tom Lamar have gone on record against the supply agreement, while all other city councilors voted in favor. The agreement was reached in February and most participants said they thought the deal would be completed before the construction season started. But the IDWR determined any kind of supply agreement must be between two governmental entities, not between a government and a private business.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
"Hawkins water supply details move forward; Joint powers agreement is in the works"
Just a brief note to the article below that appeared in today's Lewiston Tribune. Jeff DeVoe of the Hawkins Companies did indeed say that they hoped to break ground on the Stateline Retail Center in June if the the land had dried out. If you have been on the Palouse lately, you know our weather has been anything but "dry" this year, with 1.5 inches of snowfall covering the ground just two weeks ago. I wouldn't read too much into the fact that ground hasn't been broken yet.