MLSD doing ‘due diligence’ on proposed new school site

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MOSES LAKE — After a week in which the Moses Lake School District came under heavy criticism from the Port of Moses Lake and members of the Moses Lake City Council with regard to the district’s proposed location of a new elementary school, the district continues to do its “due diligence” about the site.

“We are excited to have a site location in the east part of Moses Lake where we have continued to see rapid growth and development,” said MLSD Superintendent Josh Meek. “The school will provide enrollment relief for the schools in the area and allow for future growth.”

The district is in talks to buy about 78 acres on the southwest corner of Wheeler Road and Road L Northeast, just outside Moses Lake city limits, but inside the Moses Lake Urban Growth Area (UGA).

According to data from Grant County Development Services most of the parcel is zoned residential, with school construction allowed under county zoning rules.

“(It) will likely at some point, including the surrounding area, be an area of increased residential development and new homes,” Meek said.

However, the northern quarter of the parcel is zoned for commercial use, and eventually will host a portion of the Northern Columbia Basin Railway extension from Wheeler into the Port of Moses Lake.

The plot is also less than a mile from the southern end of the Moses Lake Municipal Airport runway.

Meek, however, said the district was aware of the railroad project before looking into the site, and is only planning on using roughly 12 acres on the southern end of the parcel, leaving the district free to sell the remaining land or use it for another purpose entirely.

“Our early information shows the proposed railway location being over 1,500 linear feet or nearly 40 acres north of the potential school allowing for an ample space buffer,” Meek said. “We are also carefully looking at the impacts of the local air traffic and considerations and laws governing the surrounding areas.”

Meek said the district is continuing to evaluate the site, and that includes environmental reports, traffic studies “and other inspections and studies.”

“This work gives the district 100 percent certainty that it is the right purchase and school site,” Meek said. “This is a standard operating practice completed for all land and real estate purchases.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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