ML Port considers improvement district for west side road

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MOSES LAKE — The Port of Moses Lake has scheduled a public hearing for early March to discuss a proposal to create a local improvement district to build a road to access a possible future industrial park.

At a regular meeting Monday morning, the three commissioners overseeing the Port of Moses Lake voted unanimously for a Monday, March 11 public hearing to consider creating a special district to fund construction of a road linking state Route 17 and Road 10 Northeast, just west of the airfield at the Grant County International Airport.

According to Port director Jeffrey Bishop, the road would give the port access to land it owns but currently cannot get to for a future “west side employment center” — basically, an industrial park.

“We need to move forward,” said commission president Darrin Jackson. “This gives us access to property we don’t have access to right now.”

According to Commissioner David “Kent” Jones, the road project would cost somewhere between $4 million and $6 million. The money would be raised by a local improvement district, which would have the power to go into debt and levy assessments on “benefiting properties,” according to a publication from the Seattle-based Municipal Research and Services Center.

However, that amount could go higher if the state demands the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of the proposed road and SR-17, according to Kim DeTrolio, the Port’s director of finance.

The commissioners also agreed to consider a request from the Boys and Girls Club of the Columbia Basin to use the airport terminal building for its fundraising auction and dinner in late March.

“This would be a huge impact to the community,” Bishop said. “They’re really struggling and not finding many venues.”

Bishop said the club would stay in the terminal proper, and not use the “fishbowl” — the area for outbound passengers. Currently, the GCIA is not served by regular, scheduled air travel, and so the club using the terminal wouldn’t interrupt many aviation-related activities.

However, while the commissioners were generally supportive, current port policy doesn’t allow outside groups to use the airport terminal, and so the commission would need to decide if it wants to make an exception or rewrite its rules.

“We need to have a serious discussion of exceptions,” Jones said. “I have no problem with it, and this would be a good exercise to see if we should do this in the future, as a way to give to the community.”

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