City Council discusses adding solar panels to City Hall

Pavement, sidewalk standards discussed, City received land donation



Councilmember Al Sorensen holds up a map showing possible solar panel construction at the new City Hall building during a City Council meeting Tuesday night.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Pullman’s City Council discussed the possibility of using solar panels at the new City Hall which will be built in the coming years at a meeting Tuesday.

Councilmembers listened to a presentation from Scott Lewis, Pullman’s account manager with Apollo Solutions Group, the company the council is considering for the project. Lewis said the panels would end up paying for themselves and then begin to generate revenue.

“We want positive cash flow from the get go,” Lewis said.

Almost all of the councilmembers expressed approval for the company to go forward with looking in to possible plans for the City Hall project, looking into ideas such as amount and type of panels. Councilmember Nathan Weller said he was happy the City was looking at renewable energy opportunities.

“I’m glad to see the City moving toward renewable energy in this way,” Weller said.

However, Councilmember Al Sorensen said he was not okay with making a final decision on renewable energy, but he would be okay with the council asking Apollo to come back with more information.

Although many of the councilmembers liked the idea, Pullman Public Works Director Kevin Gardes said they would need to receive support from grants if they look to approve the project in the future.

“If we don’t get a large-sized grant, it probably doesn’t pencil out for us,” Gardes said.

Lewis said there are multiple regional grants they could apply for if they decide to use the solar panels.

Another topic discussed at the meeting dealt with sidewalk regulations for construction projects in the city, a conversation that has been ongoing for weeks now. The council has looked to address the issue of construction contractors having up to three years to place sidewalks on lots.

The council discussed the issue and came to a consensus to recommend changing the regulation to give contractors 12 months to place sidewalks on developing lots, with a possible six month extension on a case-by-case basis as approved by the City.

While there was some discussion on the possibility of requiring sidewalks be built early causing an increase in costs to the consumer, this was eventually outweighed by safety concerns.

“I think safety is the biggest issue and we need to make sidewalks on both sides of the street happen,” Councilmember Pat Wright said.

Keeping walkability among city streets also played into the decision to shorten the time allowed for sidewalks to be put in.

“When you market yourself as a walkable city, you’re going to want to have sidewalks,” Mayor Glenn Johnson said.

There was also a presentation updating the council on the highway construction on U.S. Highway 195 and future work on State Route 26 that was given by Richard Stilling of the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The work on U.S. 195 from Colfax to Spangle includes increasing the number of passing lanes on each side of the highway. Stilling said the work is still scheduleD to be completed by Sept. 6.

“That’s when it will be turned loose to the public,” Stilling said.

Stilling did warn that upcoming delays could be caused by blasting efforts.

As for SR 26, Stilling said the projected start date isn’t until 2025. Mayor Johnson and other members of the council said they would make attempts in the future to sway the state in to starting the project earlier, as many WSU students travel on SR 26.

The council also discussed asphalt regulations as they look to increase the strength of city roads to avoid repairs in the future. A lot of the discussion revolved around how much to increase the size requirement, with Councilmembers Sorensen and Eileen Macoll wanting an increase to 3 inches of asphalt on 9 inches of rock, while others agreed with a recommendation of 2.5 inches of asphalt on 10 inches of rock.

While no vote was held, some discussion also talked about the costs of higher asphalt regulations and the effects on curbs.

It was also announced at the meeting that Itani Development would be donating land worth $81,000 total to the City of Pullman near Sunnyside Park to allow for a safe zone of 350 feet to be maintained next year for the Fourth of July fireworks display.

The council also discussed and came to a consensus on adopting a resolution committing Pullman to be proactive in the fight against climate change.