Population growth leads to new city plans

Ideas of new plan include upgrading sewage, economy



Pullman community members reached out to the Pullman Planning Committee requesting more footpaths and bike trails within the city.

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Planning Department centers their goals for future city development on improving transportation infrastructure and diversifying the economy.

The city population grew 2 percent every year since 2000 and is projected to exceed 35,000 people by 2025, according to the 2018 comprehensive plan update. This growth would require the construction of about 1,518 new housing units by the same year.

Planning Director Pete Dickinson said community members often request more pathways for biking and walking and want to maintain the intimate feeling of the city.

“They still believe that Pullman has a kind of a small-town, friendly feel, and a lot of folks say that they want, no matter what happens in the future … the community to maintain that kind of atmosphere,” he said.

Dickinson said another goal is to invest in “complete streets.” These streets are designed to accommodate all types of travel, with lanes for driving, biking, public transport, sidewalks and gathering spaces.

He said the city wants to promote self-sufficient neighborhoods where people feel like they can rely on each other.

Dickinson said one idea to address this is to expand mixed-use zoning districts, which can host either commercial or residential projects. If the city commits to this idea, the zones would be in the comprehensive plan.

Another goal is to increase economic development. Dickinson said there are several groups that recruit businesses to invest in the Palouse, including Port of Whitman County and the Pullman Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of businesses in town talk about ‘surviving the summer,’ especially those that are reliant heavily on student traffic,” Dickinson said.

He said businesses must build the expectation of fewer people into their plan during the summer.

The city also created a new economic development manager position in April, he said, and they are in the middle of the hiring process.

Marie Dymkoski, executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks having someone in this position would help bring in business that represents the community.

“Economic development is a huge pie and there are a lot of people who have a piece of that pie,” Dymkoski said.

She said a person in this position would examine data to figure out potential businesses that would be a good fit for the city and then communicate with them to convince them to invest in Pullman.

Dymkoski said a lot of retail shopping is centered around Bishop Boulevard and there could be more room for it to spread out to the north side of town where there are not as many shops.

Dickinson said another infrastructure goal is upgrading the sewage system by possibly including new pumping stations to continue moving water and sewage against gravity. The city is expanding uphill and so more stations may be necessary to maintain the flow.

He said the department is in the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan but his office is unsure of when it will be complete. Previous versions of the plan can be found on the city planning website.