The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Welch Comer gives Project Downtown update

Construction officially began on project this month, Downtown Pullman Association discusses last year’s revenue, expenses
The current progress of Project Downtown Pullman three weeks in as presented by Welch Comer

The Pullman City Council heard an update from Welch Comer on Project Downtown Pullman at their meeting April 23.

Matt Gillis, Welch Comer vice president, said construction is now underway. One of the first things they did was re-stripe the Olsen St. parking, which will be a permanent change.

The traffic control strategy is still evolving, as there were problems when beginning the traffic control at the start, Gillis said. They are also working on trying to help pedestrians get across Paradise St. easier.

“All the business signs are in place, all the detour signs are in place and we’re up and running,” Gillis said. “The team has done a pretty good job of putting things in place.”

At this point, they have removed the trees and adjusted all the utility lids downward so they could grind up the asphalt, he said. The primary work has been traffic control and demolition work.

Gillis said over the next few weeks, they will be leaving most of the sidewalk in place for as long as possible and the primary focus will move from demolition to utility installation.

Courtney Kramer, Welch Comer public involvement specialist, said there are two types of engagement, general public engagement and property and business owner engagement.

“It’s important that the property and business owner engagement now a bit more detailed information about what to expect this week and what to expect next week,” Kramer said.

The general public engagement includes giving construction progress and communicating about changing access, Kramer said. For property and business owner engagement, they will be making sure the owners are not caught unaware and know how to communicate with them if they run into a problem.

Mallory Nash, Downtown Pullman Association executive director, said the association has done great work this past year. Their mission is to create and sustain vitality downtown.

“What we envision is that our downtown Pullman is the heart and soul of our community,” Nash said. “It’s a place that connects us.”

Some of the programs and services they offer are community gatherings, business engagement and support public beautification, she said. DPA relies heavily on the community when it comes to funding and work.

“In 2023, something that I think is really phenomenal is we brought in nearly $200,000 as total revenue,” she said. “Thank you for supporting us and investing in our downtown because that number goes directly to supporting me and the work we are doing.”

DPA’s total revenue was made up of $80,046 in grants, $80,000 from partnerships with the city and WSU and $37,101 from donations, Nash said. Total expenditures were $158,872.66, with 53.5% being spent on programs and outreach, including 13 community events, and the rest spent on management and general expenses.

A survey was released in 2023 that received 416 responses, the majority of which from students, that showed 83% of respondents say it is important DPA provides events in downtown Pullman and 73% said a vibrant downtown would contribute to their desire to stay in Pullman.

For 2024, DPA’s goals are increasing the number of visitors to downtown Pullman, improving perceptions of downtown and continuing “building our Main St muscle,” she said.

“We do this through community events and engagement,” Nash said. “We are bringing people together and improving foot traffic to local businesses.”

Deanna Bren, United Way of Whitman County Executive Director, said she wanted to present the work of UWWC. UWWC’s goal is to build relationships that unite people in purpose.

“We envision a thriving community where individuals and families achieve their highest potential through education, income stability and healthy lives,” Bren said. “We raise awareness and develop funding so our partnering organizations can focus on the personal needs of the individuals they serve.”

One of their tenets is to focus on childhood readiness and provide early evaluations and intervention for disabilities from birth to three months, she said. Another role is serving the asset limited, income constrained, employed, or ALICE.

“We really work to serve these people and one of the tenets we took upon the allocations committee last year is to really step up and pattern with the Family Promise of the Palouse,” Bren said.

Among the partner agencies last year are Boost Collaborative, Circles of Caring and Family Promise of the Palouse, she said. UWWC allocated $100,000 for the 2023-24 season, which they hope to increase significantly in the future.

Bren said they founded the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Whitman County in April 2022 and it has grown to serve 56% of Whitman County youth from birth to age 5. They have mailed 14,761 books at this point.

Transit manager Wayne Thompson said on May 22 the new airport terminal opens and he wanted support in moving forward with the appropriate staffing levels to match the service expansion.

Thompson said they want to add a half-time dispatcher, three quarter-time dispatchers, an operations supervisor and two drivers. The grant funding is adequate to meet their needs, but they are limited and in June 2025 the grant funding for the airport will end, so a new revenue source will be required for the service and staffing. The motion was approved.

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About the Contributor
JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor
Josiah is a sophomore broadcast journalism and broadcast production double major. He is from Lakewood, Washington and began working for the Evergreen in Fall 2021.