Walter Steed

(candidate for 2005 Moscow City Council (2 year seat))

1. Moscow’s police officers recently approached the city with a request to form a union. The city refused. Was that the right choice – why or why not? What should the city do now?
Other than what I read in the newspaper, I have no direct knowledge of the officers’ reasons for requesting to unionize. I found it interesting the Mayor could unilaterally reject the request, but, likewise, I have no knowledge of State Code regarding this ability. I would need more information from both sides, officers and city administration, before I could comment further on this process.

Our local Police, along with the Volunteer Fire Department, are the people that keep us safe, and protect our homes, businesses and property. We need to work with and support them, particularly the problem of training officers who then leave the area for better paying jobs.

2. Which schools, if any, (K-12, colleges/universities, commercial schools) should Moscow's zoning code allow downtown in the central business district, and under what conditions, if any? Explain why.
In the recent past a charter school was started in a residentially zoned area and the zoning code was subsequently revised to require a conditional use permit to review impacts on neighborhoods if another school wished to do the same. The school, which brought attention to possible impacts on the neighborhood, was allowed to remain. I believe the same situation should apply to the central business district as well as other zones and conditional use permitting should be required for all future school applications.

That being said, we have now and have had many schools of one kind or another in the central business district and other zones. I believe they should be “grandfathered” and not be subject to retroactive questioning and enforcement.

3. Please list the changes in city regulations or policy, if any, that you favor to lessen the depletion of our aquifer: for example, a stronger tiered rate structure, required use of treated effluent water for irrigation in parks, required installation of water-conserving designs in new structures, limitations on building permits, or any other changes?
Larry Kirkland of PBAC, in his presentation at the Palouse Basin Water Summit on October 6 concluded that, “the entities have stabilized deep aquifer pumping” and showed graphs that indicated some of the Moscow deep wells’ were showing the aquifer was now rebounding. I realize this information is not a conclusive determination on the status and operation of the aquifers. There are several much needed studies just starting, and we need to see the results of these.

I have found it interesting that those who espouse all of the above question’s measures, in the same breath, talk about the beauty of our tree lined streets and the need for requirements to create “green” strips in new developments. I do not believe that the two approaches are totally compatible. At the Mayor’s Heritage Ball on October 8, a slide show of early Moscow photographs did not show a single tree. The Palouse, historically, was not treed and was rolling grassland. If we raise water rates to the point where people chose not to irrigate, we had better be prepared for the consequence; a possibly tree-less community due to lack of irrigation. Wasting water is never a good thing and the use of conservation devices or even a rate structure that makes people think before leaving a hose running while washing a car or a sprinkler running long after an adequate amount of water has been applied to a lawn, garden or flower bed, should be utilized.

4. Should a bridge be built over Paradise Creek to connect Third Street between Hayes and Mountainview Road? If no, why not? If yes, should that bridge be built for use only by bicycles and pedestrians or should the bridge be designed for motor vehicles? Are there ways to improve the city’s approach to planning and maintaining our transportation needs?
The City has, since the creation of the Moscow Transportation Commission in 1997, attempted to “get ahead of developers” and plan for the multi-modal transportation needs (bike, pedestrian, vehicle and public transit) of the community. With the rapid development experienced over the past several years, it hasn’t been easy. We have attempted to look at the future use of the existing street system, where streets should be extended in the future and to project where new streets will be needed.

Yes, a multi-modal bridge should be built to allow Third Street to cross Paradise Creek to Mountain View Road. This is far from a recent concept and Chapter 10 of the Comprehensive Plan states, “While neither Sixth Street nor Third Street is ideal for heavy traffic, if both were treated as arterials, they could better handle the distributed traffic,” and “Third Street should be continued east, bridging Paradise Creek, crossing Mountain View Road . . .”

On the broader question of pedestrian traffic and alternatives to driving, we still have many neighborhoods without sidewalks. Mountain View Drive is the most obvious case, and North Polk is quickly facing the same problems. New developments today require sidewalks. If we want people to walk instead of driving we have to give them a safe, convenient way to do so. For years, although we live a quarter mile from a grocery, we couldn’t walk there without doing so in an unlit stretch of highway; so we drove instead. With the completion of the Latah Trail east of town we now have the option of walking or biking and not driving.

5. What are your views about the proposed city ballfields on Palouse River Drive? To ensure that neighborhood parks are created in new subdivisions, should development of dedicated parkland there occur simultaneously with the initial development of the subdivision? Are there ways to improve the city’s approach to planning and maintaining city parks?
There seems to be a large outcry for additional ball and playfields in Moscow. By definition, with them come noise, traffic and possibly lighting. It is unrealistic to believe that locating such impacts near existing residential neighborhoods might not cause an uproar. On the other hand, if they were placed far enough outside the city to prevent any impacts to existing neighborhoods, how could children access them without being driven? I have a daughter in Boise who has been quite pleased to be able to walk her young children, and as they have grown up, allow them to bike, to a neighborhood city playfield that can operate a combination of seven t-ball, little league and full size baseball games at one time. For soccer, she has taken her kids to Anne Morrison Park, which in addition to two dozen soccer fields has tennis courts, lighted softball diamonds, football fields, and a picnic pavilion. Both of these parks are located in or adjacent to residential areas. She says for many people, living near one of Boise’s parks is very desirable.

To create a large multi-use playground, it takes a large amount of land and developers would not agree to provide such if they are building only one or two-dozen lots. This is the reason the city takes cash in lieu of dedicated parkland for small projects and, when the project is large enough, parkland can be and has been dedicated.

Impacts of the proposed park should be analyzed and its design and/or use modified so it could accommodate the varied interests before moving forward with this project. It depends on the priorities of the community and everyone working together to make such opportunities available.

6. Please include biographical information about yourself and any other message or contact information you want to share with Moscow voters.
With a B.S. in human resources, I originally came to Idaho in 1978 to manage a medical clinic, after having been an office supervisor for a national insurance company and business manager of a 120 bed acute care hospital. I obtained my Masters degree in business from the U of I in 1987. For the past 24 years I have been self-employed with a consulting business providing project management services on water, sewer, street, housing and other public works projects. My interaction with dozens of cities, counties and utility districts has given me an inside look at the day to day operation of these entities; a breadth of experience now available to the citizens of Moscow.

For years I have articulately questioned some of the spending choices of Moscow city government and once was noted in the Daily News as having been the only citizen to question that year’s city budget. As a city council member, I will promote fiscal responsibility through continued questioning of city spending and your increasing tax burden.

Concerned about what I see as divisive, contentious behavior and even, at times, outright hostility in our community, I am running for the two-year seat on the Moscow City Council. After years of being actively involved as a citizen, I have decided to join the ranks of elected officials to keep Moscow a desirable place to live. My wife Mary, a nurse manager at WSU Student Health, and I are natives of Oklahoma and Mississippi respectively, having moved to Moscow in 1989 from Lewiston.

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