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Moses Lake seeks federal funding

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | April 1, 2022 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake City Council is seeking funds from Congress in 2023 to help pay for expanded sewer and water in Mae Valley and help to relocate the city’s sleep center and create more permanent affordable housing following a special meeting Wednesday.

The council met to consider which city projects it would like to receive Congressional funding for next year following a request from all three U.S. representatives — senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima — for local projects to include as special earmarks in next year’s federal budget.

“You ask for the moon and hope you get a meteorite,” said Mayor Dean Hankins toward the end of the meeting.

City Manager Allison Williams presented council members with a list of five “game-changer” project areas: expansion of sewer and water into Cascade Valley, the construction of a new water treatment plant in the Wheeler corridor, revitalization of the W. Broadway Avenue corridor, creation of a downtown creative district with housing, moving the current sleep center for the homeless and construction of a “transformation center” to provide short-term housing for the homeless and affordable, low-income housing for other city residents as well.

All of those projects are items Williams said the city and the council identified previously as issues the city needed to address when its comprehensive plan was revised last fall.

“We know we have huge needs with water and wastewater,” Williams told council members.

However, while the total estimated cost for all of the projects on the city’s wish list comes in at more than $270 million, Williams said staff with Murray’s office told her there were no guarantees the city would receive any funds. Additionally, any appropriations for Moses Lake would likely be very limited.

“Three million dollars is probably something they could do,” Williams told council members. “Nothing is certain with any of these requests.”

Williams told council members they could submit funding requests for all of the projects, some combination, or none of them.

“It’s your prerogative,” she said. “We need to make sure we have a consensus before taking the next step.”

There was a general consensus among council members that the city should focus on funds for moving the sleep center — work is already underway to find a new location that would have more permanent facilities. However, there was also concern that federal money would come with too many strings and submitting all five projects would risk watering down any funding award. The council also expressed frustration that the possible funding simply isn’t very much for any of the suggested projects and would just barely cover the estimated cost of remodeling the police station.

Williams said whatever money might eventually be earmarked for Moses Lake would come through existing federal agencies and programs.

The council unanimously voted to move forward with the sewer and water infrastructure and the sleep center relocation projects as their asks to the federal government. However, the frustration remained that the funding wasn’t likely to cover as much of the projects as council members would like.

“Three million (dollars) is not getting it done, and it doesn’t do any of these in their entirety,” said Council Member Mark Fancher.

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

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