Nancy Chaney

(candidate for 2003 Moscow City Council (2 year seat))

1. Do you believe the bequest from the Hamilton estate was spent wisely in the construction and maintenance of the new gym? If not, why not-and how would you avoid a similar problem in the future?
No. Bob Hamilton’s bequest for youth recreation projects was tremendously generous and should have benefits that reach far beyond construction of the new gymnasium. Although I appreciate the Council’s intent to build a long-lasting, high quality structure that fits as well as possible with the aesthetics of the neighborhood, I question the prudence of the process and outcome. Citizens with direct involvement in youth recreation activities weighed in early enough that their ideas for wider distribution of Hamilton funds should have been acknowledged. A random survey of the community generated comments that emphasized the importance of reserving part of the principal as an endowment for future youth recreation projects, rather than spending it all at once on a single project, let alone the surprising recommendation that it also be spent on M&O. (Although my household was not among those surveyed, I submitted unsolicited comments to that effect too.) By the time opponents to the proposal coordinated their efforts, the City was too deeply committed to the plan to back out. The City and the various renditions of Dream Teams could have done a better job of involving stakeholders, particularly when so much money was involved. Personal invitations could have been issued. A well-advertised series of City-wide presentations featuring proposed floor plans, colored conceptual drawings, and real live presenters for questions and answers would have made the process more “public” and accessible. Moscow has a wealth of knowledge, skill, and volunteerism that the Dream Team could have drawn upon to avoid having to start from square one. It had only to visit Clarkston WA to find an example in the Boys and Girls Club there. That non-profit organization has 80 years of experience in youth recreation facilities and knows what works and what doesn’t. Its 18,000SF project in Clarkston cost $1.3 in 2002. It seems logical that Moscow’s facility could have been built for less than double that amount.

2. As a Council member, what would be your questions, concerns and requirements if you were asked to vote for a zoning variance that would allow a large business (employing 100 workers) to be built on the outskirts of Moscow? Use that example to define your vision of economic growth for Moscow.
Moscow’s economic vitality is critical to the well-being of the community as a whole and it makes sense to welcome small to moderately-sized high quality businesses with small environmental footprints. It is important that we recognize the obvious connections between environmental health, quality of life, and economic vitality, and make long-range plans to preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods, safety of our streets, quantity and purity of our water, and “City with a Smile” reputation. When a business that promises to employ 100 people, I would ask how many of those jobs would be local and why it would be a good fit for this place. (Would it use renewable raw materials from the region or expertise drawn from the University? How much water will it use? How many vehicles will it put on the roads? How will it affect the quality of our air and quiet of our neighborhoods?) I would inquire as to its track record: If pre-existing, how was the business perceived by its home communities? Was it a community-minded good neighbor? What does the Planning and Zoning Commission recommend, and why? A Chamber of Commerce member told me that an ideal business in Moscow would employ 25 people and not drain our aquifer. Moscow’s quality of life is our greatest attraction: The universities, Heart of the Arts, safety, friendliness, clean air and water, cultural diversity, the developing system of trails, outdoor activities, convenient access to goods and services, citizen participation, and more. Businesses that consider locating here are likely attracted to those same qualities and are appreciative of our dedication to preserve them. Our economy will benefit from attracting businesses that are a good fit for this place—businesses that don’t jeopardize our natural resources or quality of life.

3. Are you concerned with the continuing depletion of the Grand Ronde aquifer, and if you are, what specific steps would you want the city to take to conserve that water source?
Scientific evidence indicates that the Grande Ronde Aquifer that supplies 60% of Moscow’s water is dropping at a rate of 1-1/2 to 2-feet per year. The long-term health of our region--economically and otherwise-- is tied to conserving this critical resource. Nearly 85% of respondents to a 2003 Water Department survey agree. Realistically, we do not know if conservation will be enough to preserve our water supply, but to not make that effort would be irresponsible. If we do not put forth an honest effort to make the tough decisions here and now, the region may justifiably be designated as a Critical Groundwater Management Area, overseen by the Idaho Department of Water Resources. It is imperative that we have good science and open public input to make informed decisions and develop solutions. I favor instituting a tiered rate system, wherein high volume users would pay more per unit than low volume users, much like our volume-based trash collection. Consideration should be made for businesses and individuals whose needs are exceptional, such as medical facilities, restaurants, daycare facilities, etc. Because Moscow used 13% more water this summer than for the comparable period last year, I would support enforced mandatory conservation measures, in conjunction with infrastructure improvements, to establish a valid baseline and to learn what difference we can make. Water conservation devices should be made more widely available by setting up tables in parking lots and the Farmers’ Market and asking Scouts and other volunteers to go door-to-door. Rate payers could “round-up” utility bills and recipients could be asked for free-will donations to help pay for supplies. Moscow’s dedication to sustainability should be manifest in building standards that require installation of water-conserving appliances. We could offer incentives similar to the street tree program to residents who xeriscape and sponsor garden tours to promote the aesthetic and practical appeal.

4. Should Moscow encourage, and begin planning now for, the creation of a new route for Highway 95 that bypasses the city?
Transportation infrastructure is vital to the health of our regional economy, as well as to the safety of Moscow’s residents and visitors. Planning necessarily involves assessment of short- and long-term needs and anticipating growth patterns into the Area of City Impact. Long-range proposals for traffic management include a ring road around the perimeter of the City to allow through traffic bound for Pullman, Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene, or Troy to avoid congesting downtown streets. The size and mix of Moscow will continue to attract consumers, and through traffic will drive “through,” regardless. A pedestrian-friendly downtown with less truck and commuter traffic will be an asset to businesses there. An actual “bypass” is probably still a number of years out, but we must anticipate potential routes now, to preserve transportation corridor(s). The proposed westerly route seems the most probable, requiring that Idaho and Washington come to mutually agreeable solutions concerning infrastructure and preservation of the vitality of Moscow businesses. Improving the safety of Highway 95 is a priority, and it is unfortunate that weaknesses in the process resulted delaying completion of the section immediately south of Moscow. I appreciate that an Environmental Impact Statement is now required to formally assess the environmental and safety concerns associated with Route 10A. As a board member of the Latah Trail Foundation, I have developed a mutually respectful working relationship with County and Idaho Transportation Department officials, and believe that such rapport is critical to the success of a regional transportation plan. On the local level, I believe that we can do a better job of improving bicyclist-pedestrian safety with sidewalks, bike lanes, non-motorized pathways, pedestrian malls, and street crossings.

5. As a Council member, how would you use e-mail, web sites, or any other communication tools to inform Moscow residents about city programs or to gather input from those residents?
Increasingly, we hear complaints from citizens who believe that their input has been omitted from discussions, or when their voices have been heard, that they didn’t matter. Outcomes of City Council decisions are based on the quality of the process, and to be valid, that process must involve effective, representative communication, invitations to open dialog, inspiring respect and enthusiasm for civic engagement, careful listening, and thoughtful responses. People are predisposed to hear and understand what is within their usual frames of reference. It is important that our City Council is well-rounded enough to effectively exchange information with a variety of stakeholders. Electronic formats are important tools toward that end. The City’s Web site should be kept current, so that information is disseminated in a timely fashion. Issue-specific “hot buttons” could be put on the home page, so that interested parties—particularly the less Web-savvy among us—could have easy access to announcements of particular concern to them. The site could include links to related resources. Council members may not be able to email every concerned citizen individually on every issue, particularly when contentious input is “blanketed.” A system that asks citizens to categorize messages for general replies (like our Congressional delegation does-) and invites individual interaction when necessary would be an improvement. Periodic reports (like Jon Kimberling’s) on the City’s site, Vision 2020, the MCA site, in area newspapers, and via e-mail to groups and individuals requesting the information from Council members will keep citizens in the loop and connected to community government. When appropriate, ads in newspapers could be more eye-catching and interesting than the typical text-only public notices. City Council members should be visible and accessible to the community they represent. We could take turns attending a citizen input table at the Farmers’ Market. We could formalize a speakers series wherein Council members visit business and volunteer organizations, University employees and students, neighborhood associations, and senior citizen groups to build channels of communication. Finally, it is imperative that Council members conduct themselves in such a way that citizens feel comfortable approaching them and confident that their ideas are valuable.

6. Biographical information:
I am running for City Council because I enjoy community service, care about Moscow’s future, and have the skills to help people with various viewpoints find common ground, respectful interaction, and workable solutions. A resident of Moscow for 23 years, I have been an RN since 1977 and earned an M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Idaho in 2002. Some in Moscow know me as “Nurse Nancy” from my work in internal medicine, family practice, and OB/GYN. Some remember me as a race director for Palouse Road Runners or as the organizer of the Women’s Wellness Forum. Maybe they know of my involvement on the Board of the Latah Trail Foundation or as a community volunteer. Our paths may have crossed at the University of Idaho, where I helped coordinate the Humanities Program on Sense of Place. Through these experiences, I have learned about objectivity, compassion, appreciation of cultural and ethnic diversity, foresight, proactivity, and the value of community.
Ideally, Moscow’s elected officials will be representative of the wide array of voices in our community. Through my varied experiences, I already know many of those voices. You may reach me at 882-9350 or by email at My Web address is Help bring balance to Moscow’s City Council. Please vote for Nancy Chaney on Tue. Nov. 4. Thank you for the opportunity to share this information about my candidacy!

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