Here's hoping the Hawkins water issue gets resolved quickly.
From today's Lewiston Tribune:
MOSCOW - A majority of city councilors here want to keep a proposed interstate water deal with Hawkins Company on a fast track, two councilors said Tuesday.
"We're operating under good-faith here," Councilor Dan Carscallen said. "By gosh, if we're going to do it, let's do it."
Councilor Walter Steed agreed. "Ever since we took office in January, when the Hawkins project was put on our plate on day one, we have been pushing to try and provide water to the Hawkins state line project."
Hawkins wants to build a 714,000-square-foot shopping center just over the border into Washington's Whitman County. Hawkins spokesman Jeff De Voe has said his company will either drill for its own water, or tap into Moscow's waterline that butts up against the 204-acre development site.
Carscallen and Steed responded to criticism Monday by Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch, who said Moscow city government caused at least a two-year delay in construction by raising questions about and filing appeals over groundwater concerns.
"The previous council is the reason for that," Carscallen said. "The people had to unelect that bunch and get a new one in to make something happen."
In addition to Carscallen and Steed, Councilors Bill Lambert, John Weber and Wayne Krauss have endorsed providing water to the Hawkins development. Only Mayor Nancy Chaney and Councilor Tom Lamar have voiced opposition.
Despite the support, no deal appears imminent - unless Carscallen and Steed get their way. They said they favor meeting immediately with Finch and fellow Whitman County commissioners Greg Partch and Michael Largent to reach an agreement.
Steed questioned whether the current delay has anything to do with water. "I don't see how water, at this point, could be a hold-up. Because they've got both us working on selling them water, and I understand they have bid contracts to drill wells, which is their backup source."
Finch said De Voe told him last week well-drilling equipment would be on-site this week and drilling could start within the next two weeks.
The shopping center, with a Lowe's home improvement center as one of its anchors, has been touted by Whitman County officials as a boon to the local economy and the beginning of much needed retail development in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. Critics say, in addition to possibly draining the groundwater supply, the development represents the beginning of unnecessary retail sprawl.
"This council has not tried to second-guess developers," Steed said, especially across the border in Washington.
At this point, it appears officials at the Idaho Department of Water Resources are demanding Moscow and Whitman County establish a joint-powers agreement for water to be supplied across the state line to Hawkins.
A draft of the proposed joint-powers agreement has been forwarded to the Whitman
County commissioners and Finch said it's being reviewed.