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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Sanchez

Moses Lake City Council asking Congress for funds to help sustain and improve city infrastructure

- Moses Lake, WA

The City of Moses Lake is looking to request funding from Congress to improve the city's infrastructure along with relocating the current sleep center on the corner of SR-171 and SR-17.

The almost entirely new elected city council held a special meeting Wednesday evening to discuss which projects would be approved to be funded by congress. The Congressional funding for the 2023 year came into request from both Democratic Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, along with congressman Dan Newhouse (R), to focus on local city projects.

City Manager Allison Williams stated that Infrastructure needs span across the city and presented the council with a "Game Changer Project" outlining five core areas that the city needs to start giving more attention towards as the population continues to steadily increase. The first project on the list is water and wastewater capacity enhancements with the possibility to upgrade the wastewater capacity treatment center on Wheeler Rd. along with extending water and sewage pipes into upper Mae Valley and into Cascade Valley. According to City Manager Williams, the Cascade Valley area is currently underserved by water and sewer utilities; before this area can fully develop, additional water, sewer, and roadway improvements will be necessary to ensure the availability of services. According to the city, developments have begun to start a conceptual plan for extending utility services to the incorporated portions of Cascade Valley along Valley Road. In the plans, this route would provide the greatest benefit to the larger Cascade Valley area while being relatively easy to maintain long-term.

The proposed extension of both water and sewer mains down Valley Road would require the following improvements:

▪ 5,800 linear feet of sewer force main;

▪ 2,500 linear feet of sewer gravity main; ▪ 5,200 linear feet of 12-inch water main;

▪ 3,100 linear feet of 8-inch water main;

▪ 1 new sewer lift station; Ch. 7 Capital Facilities DRAFT Moses Lake Together – Creating Our Future | October 2021 7-22

▪ 1 new water well and well house; and

▪ 8,300 linear feet of roadway repaving as part of water and sewer line installation.

The total conceptual cost for this project is approximately $4 million. The project is included in the proposed ARPA budget.

• Water reuse projects and sewer capacity expansion projects to enable development on parcels in the Superfund site and on the Wheeler Corridor. The water reuse project was scoped for submittal for federal funds and was estimated at $30 million. In the Utilities Element, the needed improvements in the Wheeler Corridor are identified (COF bypass for direct connection to the Sand Dunes treatment facility and water/sewer capacity improvements).

The second project addressed was the Broadway District revitalization project; this project focuses on the full length of SR-171 Broadway Ave, upgrading the street's infrastructure with stormwater additions and improvements, making empty lots along the road ready and suitable for future businesses and office space companies. Williams also said to the council once the city limit population reaches 27,000, a transition process will begin shifting the year-round state route road maintenance from the Washington State Department of Transportation to the City of Moses Lake and wants to have a plan set in place so the city can have a head start and good control over the transition phase once the time comes.

The goals of the revitalization project include:

▪ Stormwater and wastewater infrastructure improvements to reduce runoff pollution and improve lake health;

▪ Increased bicycle and pedestrian access through the district;

▪ Redevelopment of urban infill properties, which increased property values and property tax revenues; and

▪ Revitalization of the local business community. Infrastructure investments, property acquisitions, and site improvements are projected to cost approximately $120 million. Key projects include:

▪ Street upgrades, traffic calming, transit infrastructure, and pedestrian/bicycle facilities along 3.75 miles of roadway;

▪ Acquisition of the portion of the Columbia River Railroad line that runs through the district for conversion and incorporating in the Moses Lake Activity Trail.

▪ Acquisition of property for development as subsidized housing, mixed-use commercial development, or hotel/convention spaces through public-private partnerships. Funding for the Broadway District Revitalization is anticipated to come from a new tax increment financing district, supplementing by grant funding.

The City Manager also wants to focus on revitalizing the city's downtown infrastructure updating Third Ave's sewage and stormwater. According to the city, this project would revitalize the 125-acre Paver District in Downtown Moses Lake, which has suffered from disinvestment in recent decades. According to the city, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has further hurt local businesses and forced business closures in the area. The Creative District project is seeking to create a unique sense of place for Downtown Moses Lake, focused on civic uses and the city’s cultural heritage. Project goals also include reduced vacancy of downtown commercial spaces, increased mixed-use, and live-work development, and creation of economic opportunity and community resilience for a diverse cross-section of city residents.

Revitalization of the Creative District will be accomplished through targeted investments in facilities and infrastructure, including the following:

▪ Expansion of the Moses Lake public library to include meeting spaces and maker/artist spaces;

▪ Establishment of a small business/start-up incubator in partnership with the Moses Lake Chamber;

▪ Improvements to stormwater facilities on Broadway and Third Avenue to demonstrate use of stormwater facilities for placemaking and improvement of surface water quality and lake health;

▪ Construction of a mixed-use housing project to implement the City’s Housing Action Plan; and

▪ Enhancements at McCosh Park and Sinkiuse Square to enhance utilization and honor local tribal history and relationships. The City estimates the total cost of improvements associated with the Creative District at approximately $22 million. While funding has been secured for some components of the project, the City is seeking grant funding for the majority of

Projects to improve the 90-Freeway in between Mae Valley and the lower Moses Lake peninsula were also addressed, stating the on and off-ramps are failing due to the housing and population spike in the western portion of the city. The city states that this project would include the formal design, environmental review, and construction of additional multimodal local access lanes on I-90 between Hansen Road and West Lakeshore Drive, as well as construction improvements to the overpass and pedestrian connection at Hansen Road.

The goals of the project include:

▪ Improve traffic safety on I-90: Growth in the area has increased congestion on this segment of I-90, leading to safety hazards as local traffic is forced to mix with interstate traffic. Additional local-access lanes would relieve congestion and reduce conflicts.

▪ Improve lake health: This portion of I-90 includes a lake crossing, and the existing roadway is not compliant with Eastern Washington National Pollution Discharge standards. Roadway upgrades would allow the installation of improved stormwater facilities to handle runoff from the highway.

▪ Improve pedestrian access and safety: Improvements to the pedestrian overpass at Hansen Road would include enhancements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additional benefits of the project would include improved freight mobility due to reduced mixing of local and interstate traffic, improved transportation access to the West Moses Lake/Mae Valley area in anticipation of future growth, and improved access to recreational amenities, including Blue Heron Park.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $95 million, and funding is anticipated to consist of a mix of local funds and federal grant funding.

The next proposed project brought to attention was the Moses Lake Transformational Campus; if approved, the project will consist of a 5‐acre site designed to provide comprehensive homelessness intervention and community services for Grant County. The City’s current Sleep Center will be replicated at the campus along with the opportunity for a multi-function facility that provides office space for a wide range of agencies offering a range of services to marginalized populations, including homeless prevention and outreach services, mental health providers, SUD counselors, nutrition programs, a community meeting space, employment preparation and coaching, and outreach services such as SOAR navigators and coordinated entry.

A 20‐unit enhanced shelter will provide immediate access to housing, Case Management, and stabilization services and work in conjunction with the providers in the multi‐function facility to prevent homelessness and facilitate exits to permanent housing. Additionally, a combination drop‐in shelter/warming center/hygiene center will be constructed on‐site to provide shelter for individuals and households not yet ready to enter a formal shelter program. Finally, a 50‐unit affordable housing project with units dedicated to homeless and very low-income households will be built, depending on updated market analysis. A community garden will be maintained to encourage the consumption of fresh vegetables.

If funded, the Moses Lake Transformational Campus will be a “one‐stop‐shop” for households in crisis to access rent assistance, nutrition, employment counseling, behavioral health and domestic violence referrals, community agency referrals, energy assistance, and more. A feasibility study is currently getting underway.

City Councilwoman Deanna Martinez stated that the sleep center needs to stay in operation to avoid camps and tents popping up around the city, along with focusing on more necessary projects that benefit the city "we do not need to spend money twice on a police station remodeling and building a new one, we need more fire stations, we need to figure out how to make lower-cost housing more available through funding or incentives." Martinez also mentioned that the city needs to address the housing market and focus on transitional housing for lower-income families who begin to get back on their feet. Martinez also addressed that the Housing Action Plan is a main concern that needs to be looked at as the availability of low-income housing is scarce. "We need housing at all incomes to have a healthy market," Williams said.

The total estimated cost for all of the projects on the city’s proposal is expected to come in at nearly $270 million; Williams addressed the council, saying staff members with Senator Murray’s office told her there were no guarantees the city would receive any funds, with the minimum amount of funding if given would be $3 million.

Councilman Mark Fancher said, "$3 million won't get it done". Fancher said they are doing their best with the resources they have currently and that the city can equate to making housing affordable, and "the money has to come from somewhere... and we need more flexibility when requesting money," he said. Fancher also stated his concerns that if the city applies, he wants to make sure there's flexibility if the funding can only be used for certain projects that don't fulfill the city's needs.

The city council unanimously voted to move forward to request funding from Congress to help upgrade needed sewer and water infrastructure and approve the sleep center relocation projects.

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