Evan Holmes

(candidate for 2005 Moscow City Council (4 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?
In theory, the right to form a union or a neighborhood association or an advocacy group of any kind is without question. The city of Moscow (essentially, I believe, our mayor and city supervisor) balked in this case because they didn’t understand what the local police officers wanted to accomplish and whether or not this was the best way to accomplish it. Which tells the answer to “What should the city do now?”

That said, do I support the formation of a local police union? Certainly. If the employees themselves can demonstrate that such a federation is the most cost-effective, time-effective, community-serving and sustainable method they have at their disposal for reaching their collective long term goals then who or what would stand in their way?

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.
Only the University district is zoned specifically for a school in this town. Otherwise there are a lot of factors that will determine if, where and how any type of school might fit and function satisfactorily in any of the other types of zones. These factors may vary from zone to zone or as time passes or as a specific neighborhood develops and matures. Therefore, it is appropriate to use the Conditional Use Permit process to insure that proposed schools of any type are a good fit for their proposed locations and that citizen input is used to determine this suitability.

A new ordinance is now being drafted that will make this the official policy/procedure for schools in Moscow. Since I sit on the Zoning Board of Adjustment it is likely that I will soon have the privilege to consider evidence and testimony about the placement of schools downtown. In the interest of fairness and impartiality, it is inappropriate and premature for me to suggest or comment upon conditions that I think should be placed upon such buildings or activities. My apology to the readers.

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?
As phrased, this is a difficult question. I think we can be certain that one of our aquifers would respond favorably to conservation practices of any kind and the other may or may not. I favor a combination of voluntary, incentive driven, economic and regulatory approaches such as those listed in the question in order to “lessen the depletion of our aquifer”. I will note that those approaches with economic implications are generally the most dependable and predictable. Concurrent with conservation we must prioritize how we want to allocate water - existing residences, commercial activities, parks, agriculture, new residential development, playfields and industry all deserve a piece of the pie. Who gets the first piece? Who gets the biggest? However, and this is a big however, neither conservation nor careful budgeting, give us more water, they just give us more time.

Since we don’t know how much time we have it is imperative that we get moving upon a path towards a long term solution. Eventually we will have to (1) collect and impound surface water, or (2) recharge one or both of our aquifers using rainwater or surface water, or (3) conduct enough scientific research to determine that there is no real immediate need to proceed with number one or number two. One thing that all three of these possibilities have in common is money. So our actual second step, where the first is to maximize conservation, involves gathering enough money so that we can proceed.

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?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity ... it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair ...,” it was a dream of playfields, it was a nightmare of lights and noise; it was a quest to build a connecting bridge, it was a plan to wreck an established neighborhood.

I couldn’t resist borrowing Charles Dickens’ famous lead-in for a joint discourse about the Third Street bridge and the Palouse River Drive sports complex. Some of the controversy of these two projects might have been avoided with better “process”. If we only adopted one of the many principles of “Smart Growth” in this town - to include residents, business owners and other affected neighbors in the initial discussions of developments - then maybe these brush fires would never ignite.

Each of these proposed developments is advantageous to this community. Each of these also poses a real threat to an established neighborhood. In both cases I like to think in terms of the “positives” - and to think of methods of design and implementation that will allow them to move forward to the greatest extent with the least amount of harm. And as always, we must determine if there are any hidden “costs” (economic, social, environmental, logistical or aesthetic) that get overlooked in the enthusiasm of the moment, no matter towards which side of the issue that enthusiasm is generated.

On the practical side the bridge is long overdue. So long, however, that it is impossible to turn back the clock and ignore the in-your-face changes it would bring to the immediate neighborhood and the peripheral changes it might make to an adjacent historic neighborhood. However, the 3rd street automobile bridge might be a necessity for this town, someday. Since we seem to be getting along without it, today is not that day. That necessity needs to be demonstrated before we proceed. In the meantime we should work towards a pedestrian/bicycle bridge (perhaps contained within a pocket park) and think of ways to otherwise achieve some of the gains made if the full scale bridge was a reality. For example, “B” street between Mountainview and Hayes would be a safer pedestrian/bicycle corridor and intersector if there was an automobile bridge over the creek at 3rd street. How else might we achieve this improvement to safety?

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?
The sports complex should be handled as if it was being proposed as a private enterprise. In that case we would want it to go through a rigorous procedure that gave full consideration to costs, impacts, methods of mitigation, benefits, design, citizen input, etc. We have recently imposed this level of scrutiny and control via the Conditional Use Permit process on St. Mary’s School and the Rotary/Fairgrounds Ice Rink Facility. Would it be fair to do any less with one of our “own” city projects?

6. Please include biographical information about yourself and any other message or contact information you want to share with Moscow voters.
In 1989, when I was a mere one-third of a century old, my wife, Nancy, and I moved to Moscow. While she attended graduate school I started HomeWork, my residential remodeling business, which is now my primary occupation. For nine years Nancy has owned and operated Beginning With Music, which has allowed her to enrich the lives of hundreds of local children. Our other focus has been on our own children, Emily and Colin, now both students at Moscow Junior High School. We have been involved in this community all along the way and consider ourselves fortunate to live here and to encounter friends wherever we go.

Now I am almost a half-century old and I want us to focus on the fact that Moscow is, and must remain, a model city. I am up to date on the issues, knowledgeable about the laws and procedures and prepared to work hard as your councilor. Contact me with your questions, concerns or encouragement. E-mail = Address = Box 8981. Phone = 883-4918.

Thanks to Bill London and others for forming this on-line candidate symposium. Thanks to you, the reader for wading through this mass of rhetoric. Double thanks for your commitment to be an informed voter before heading to the polls on November 8th.

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