Jack Hill

(candidate for 2003 Moscow City Council (4 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?
The City of Moscow has gone through an extremely inclusive public process over the past three years to utilize Bob Hamilton’s gift in the most effective way possible to benefit Moscow’s youth. Throughout this three-year planning process, there have been countless public meetings, presentations, requests for input, and a public survey solely for the purpose of allowing the citizens of Moscow to express their ideas. Each of the three citizen committees has done its best to include the opinions of the public, the documented recreation facility needs of the community, and the wishes of Bob Hamilton. The group that opposes the recreation center should have made its voice known early in the process. It didn’t. The group complained after contracts were signed. It wants more playing fields. So does the Council. A community process is now underway.

Every year for the past six years, the City budgeted money for acquisition and development of play fields. The City recently purchased 44 acres of flat land on the south side of town for this purpose. We will continue to work with the school district to develop the Joseph Street property.

It should be noted that the Hamilton Indoor Recreation Center is a component of the overall parks and recreation program that has been part of the community for many years. The funds received via the Hamilton bequest will be used to supplement, not replace, current levels of city financial participation.

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.
The Council would work with staff to explore the following questions and considerations:

a. Is the proposal adequately justified in terms of the applicable relevant criteria and standards against which the application must be legally measured?

1) Will it endanger the public health of safety or result in nuisance conditions?
2) Will it meet the applicable development standards if the Zoning Code? (parking, setbacks, building height, landscaping, etc.)?
3) Will it be detrimental to adjoining properties or the neighborhood?
4) Is it a public necessity or deemed to be a significant benefit to the community?
5) Will its characteristics be in harmony with the area in which it is proposed?
6) Will it be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan (i.e., natural resources and hazards, public services, facilities and utilities, community design, land use, transportation, and, economic development)?

b. How does the proposal fit into smart growth principles (i.e., range of housing opportunities, walk able neighborhoods, community and stakeholder collaboration, distinctive and attractive places with a strong sense of place, development application process fairness, efficiency and predictability, open space and environmentally sensitive area preservation, and, transportation variety and efficiency)?

c. Is the proposal consistent with, or contrary to these interests (i.e., Economic Development Strategic Plan, LEDC mission, goals and efforts, U of Idaho promotion, plans and efforts, downtown enhancement)?

My vision of economic growth will be determined by the community-based strategic plan currently in the process of being developed. The City of Moscow is collaborating with the University, Chamber of Commerce, Latah Economic Development council and interested citizens to come up with a community based plan. The process is important because it must be bottom up rather than top down. We need to involve all stakeholders at the early stages of this plan. We need to determine what are the strengths and weaknesses of our current economy. What market sectors are desirable to support and grow? What community values do we want to maintain and/or strengthen? Community guided economic development would suggest before taking any action you must first examine the values you hold dear. What does that term “quality of life” mean? What environmental concerns do we have in looking at growth? As the process unfolds, the group will define these values, set priorities, goals and objectives for a strategic, economic road map we will want to follow in the years ahead. We will want to send a message to developers what we expect and what we will allow for development to occur. Living wage jobs, land use, transportation, housing, work force development, business retention and recruitment are other key considerations for this plan. The number one goal for me is success. It must translate into recognizable action. Take small chunks of the larger plan and implement them. Success breeds success. The process needs to be predictable, fair and cost effective to have any chance of succeeding. If we can demonstrate what good planning can do for future economic development, we should be looking at the involvement of Pullman and Whitman County. A regional approach would give us more leverage and economic clout.

3. Are you concerned with the continuing depletion of the Grande Ronde aquifer, and if you are, what specific steps would you want the city to take to conserve that water source?
The City of Moscow is not alone in facing the challenges of the management and development of our groundwater resources. We are working with Pullman, WSU, Whitman County, Latah County, and University of Idaho. The major water consumers on the Palouse have formed the Palouse Basic Aquifer Committee (PBAC). This committee offers research and recommendations as to addressing our water needs in the future. The City of Moscow has established the Health and Environment Committee that makes recommendations to the city Council. The members are currently working with city staff and a consultant to come up with a water conservation plan. The ultimate entity in Idaho for groundwater resources is the Department of Water resources. Some people want a moratorium on future growth claiming we do not have enough water to support it. Business expansion and future growth are important to our economic viability, but we need to be smart about it. Our renewable resources, whether it is mining, timber or water, need to be managed. The types of businesses we grow or attract to this area should be environmentally friendly. The Latah Economic Development Council and the Chamber of Commerce have taken the lead in this effort. This balancing act of preserving our water resources and maintaining a healthy, vibrant business environment is not an either/or situation. In my opinion, we can do both with the cooperation and collaboration of the PBAC entities, Health and Environment, Chamber and the Latah Economic Development Council. Research, exploring alternatives, determination and common sense are needed as we move into the future.

4. Should Moscow encourage, and begin planning now for, the creation of a new route for Highway 95 that bypasses the city?
The Idaho Department of Transportation makes decisions on state highways with the consent of its board. Cities participate in regional planning around their sphere of influence. Currently, the Moscow Transportation Commission and staff are working on a multi-modal comprehensive transportation plan, including cars, pedestrians, public transportation, bicycles, air and rail. As part of the strategic plan for the City of Moscow, transportation is a key component to land use. The infrastructure we establish will be important to our continued economic health and our quality of life. As we discussed the area of impact with our county commissioners, it became clear to me that we should establish a regional transportation-planning group. In my opinion, we need to control transportation routes ahead of land use development. We need to revisit both the city and county comprehensive plans to make sure we have consensus on future transportation corridors. We need to obtain community support by involvement in selecting preferred beltway and by pass routes.

A majority of Moscow residents acknowledge that traffic congestion is getting worse and a discussion of a bypass around Moscow is being talked about. This decision needs to have much public input. Would a bypass help our community and businesses or not? I do not know the answer, but I am willing to work with others to explore it.

I was, and still am, in favor of route 10A of HWY 95 to Moscow. I am sorry politics have entered the picture and delays and possible funding may disappear. More lives may be lost.

5. As a Council member, how would you use email, websites, or any other communication tools to inform Moscow residents about city programs or to gather input from those residents?
As a current council member, I am very accessible. I talk to people and they certainly talk to me. I listen to what they have to say. I am contacted by phone and by e-mail with concerns, questions, and opinions. Presently, we involve and invite the public to come to council and other public meetings. Public notices, press releases, phone, e-mail and a website are not enough for many people. Others are apathetic or have distrust toward government. In our strategic plan, we now survey our citizens every two years, to find out what they like, don’t like, or would like to see improved. It has become clear to me that information, access, and outreach must serve as a framework for increasing communication with our citizens. How do we expand and diversify communication to continue to build trust? The Council is currently developing a resolution to formalize communication goals. It would include, but not be limited to conducting a public communication open house to listen to what we do or don’t do well and how we can improve. Other ideas might include broader use of our website, other listserves, additional public forums, closer communication with the media, establishment of a city e-mail listserve, televising committees as well as council meetings, etc. We do will not know until we ask, listen and raise the bar so citizens are more a part of what happens at City Hall. An informed majority will usually make good decisions . . . at least they own them!

6. Please include biographical information about yourself and any other message or contact information you want to share with Moscow voters.
For the last four years I have served on the Moscow City Council (elected in 1999). Prior to that, I served as superintendent of the Moscow School District (1993-98). I have been a teacher and administrator for 34 years. Currently, I am on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Library Foundation and the Latah Economic Development Council. I have been a Moscow mentor for three years, have taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Idaho, and have chaired the Workforce Development Task Force for the last six years.

I have been very involved in community affairs since serving as your representative to the Council. I am running for re-election because I like the job. I have high energy and enthusiasm for public service. I know how to listen and work with community members in building consensus. I look at each issue before us and try to use common sense and reality before coming to a vote. I have demonstrated leadership, compassion and integrity to the duties of my office. I am proud of working as part of a team with other council members and city staff for the citizens of Moscow. Being retired gives me the time to continue this service.

Issues that are important to me are public safety, growth that matches local values, comprehensive water conservation planning, the arts, parks and public spaces, and downtown revitalization. I believe strongly in recreation initiatives (i.e., pool, ice rink, additional playing fields, skate park, dog park, recreation center and Paradise Path). These help improve the quality of life we enjoy.

I am also a believer in saving tax dollars. I have advocated a combined city-county e-911 and dispatch for police, fire and emergency services. I would like to see us work with county commissioners in establishing a blue ribbon committee to review duplication of efforts to save taxes. I would like to see a regional transportation planning council and collaborative land use planning in the new area of impact. Wherever possible, I would like to promote partnerships and team building with our schools, university and county government. I support economic development to continue our 1-2% growth rate each year. Growing and supporting our own businesses on the Palouse is a large part of that effort.

Finally, I would like your vote on November 4th as one of the three you cast. I would like to continue to serve you as your councilman. I will always be accessible. I will always be tolerant, patient and receptive to your concerns.

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