City Council reviews downtown project proposals, approves purchase of new firetruck

Councilmembers consider expanding parking on Olsen Street, explore ways to revitalize downtown; Pullman Fire Department’s new truck to cost $430,000



Pullman City Councilmembers discussed renovating the downtown area at a meeting Tuesday evening.

MELINA ERNST, Evergreen reporter

Pullman City Council reviewed projects proposed in the city’s downtown master plan during a meeting Tuesday evening. 

Public Works Director Kevin Gardes presented the project proposals to the council, which included increasing parking on Olsen Street, installing street eateries, revitalizing High Street and Pine Street plazas and improving streetscape on Main Street.

Providing additional parking on Olsen Street could help offset parking shortages in other areas downtown, Gardes said. 

The council also considered adding diagonal parking, bike lanes and relocating Pullman’s transfer station to Olsen Street. The new transfer station would need to accommodate space for three to five buses, he said. 

Councilmember Brandon Chapman said expanded parking on Olsen Street could allow the city to continue having parallel parking on Main Street, make sidewalks wider and provide space for street eateries. 

“We would be talking about plenty of space to have dining outdoors and not necessarily needing to be out … [on the] roadway,” Chapman said. 

Downtown business owners expressed interest in having street eateries, Councilmember Ann Parks said. 

“They’re willing to do it themselves,” she said.

Parks said one of her priorities for the city is creating spaces that bring people downtown, including providing places for people to sit, relax and spend time with one another. This could involve building a “play structure” for children and their families. 

She said the city needs to consider constructing public restrooms downtown.

Councilmember Dan Records said renovating High Street Plaza and Main Street are his top two priorities. 

According to the master plan, the city should make the following changes on High Street Plaza: plant trees, install a raised platform for informal seating or a stage, redo paving and add lights into the steps at the terraces. 

“I think the biggest bang for our buck is gonna be the Main Street — redoing the sidewalks [and] redoing the streetscapes,” Records said. “That’s gonna be the most visible [and] most powerful impact that we have.”

Pullman councilmembers also unanimously approved the Pullman Fire Department’s request to purchase a new wildlands brush firetruck for $430,000. 

WSU will pay $77,000 toward the new truck, said Ryan Lancaster, Pullman maintenance and operations accountant. The university has an agreement with the fire department in which they contribute 18 percent to the department’s capital costs.

The department’s existing truck has been in service for 20 years and is due for replacement, Lancaster said. The department anticipates receiving and paying for the new truck in 2022.

“The lead time on this truck is exceedingly long — up to a year potentially,” he said. “We’re seeking authorization to order the truck now so that it could potentially be put in service in 2022.”