Council approves town-gown memorandum

Members debated intent of document, rezoning of 25 acres



Councilmember Eileen Macoll was the only member to vote against the town-gown memorandum. “It mentions WSU and how WSU basically is Pullman and I disagree with that,” she said.

BENJAMIN WHITE, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman City Council heard from Tom Handy, Downtown Pullman Association president, who asked the council to vote to have the mayor sign a memorandum approving support for town-gown. 

While this doesn’t specify an amount of funding, it does say the city will work with the other partners, which includes the DPA, WSU and the Chamber of Commerce, Handy said.

“We’ve all got skin in the game, so to speak, and because we’ve all got skin in the game we’re all on the hook financially,” councilmember Brandon Chapman said.

Five councilmembers voted to approve the agreement, and councilmember Eileen Macoll alone dissented.

“It mentions WSU and how WSU basically is Pullman and I disagree with that,” Macoll said. “If we’re going to talk about downtown Pullman, then let’s talk about downtown Pullman.”

She also spoke about how WSU faculty and staff are mentioned several times in the small document while Pullman residents are not mentioned until well into the document.

“I agree with this document in principle, materially I agree with where it’s going, but if this is to be a cornerstone document for what we hope will be a very successful program, I’d like to see it written a little better,” she said.

City attorney Laura McAloon said the document is mostly a “feel-good” document to provide a general direction and that it will not be a legal cornerstone to the agreement.

“I will go along with that characterization of what it should be, it should be a feel-good document, but this doesn’t feel good at all,” Macoll said. “If this was English 101 I would write this person up.”

The council also voted on the rezoning of 25 acres from light industrial to high density residential, which is to be used for university housing.

At previous city council meetings, the council heard from residents, both proponents and opponents of the zone change.

Pullman Planning director Pete Dickinson said the planning staff recommended the rejection of the application and the planning commission suggested approval of the application.

Both groups heard reasons for and against the rezoning proposal, due to there being a need for both residential and light industrial land, and they came to different conclusions, Dickinson said.

Councilmembers Al Sorenson, Brandon Chapman and Dan Records voted in favor of the proposal and councilmembers Eileen Macoll, Pat Wright and Ann Parks voted against the proposal, leaving the tie breaker to Mayor Glenn Johnson, who voted in favor.