Leaders commit to collaboration

Pullman’s city council is in its final stages for improving downtown



(left to right) Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marie Dymkoski, Downtown Pullman Association President and Chairman Tom Handy, and WSU President Kirk Schulz signed a Memorandum of Understanding to honor the partnerships between the city and university in improving Downtown Pullman on Tuesday night at The Historic Pullman Depot and Heritage Center.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen editor-in-chief

Community and university leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday at the Historic Pullman Depot and Heritage Center to honor a collaborative effort to improve downtown Pullman.

Members included Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson; Marie Dymkoski, Chamber of Commerce executive director; Tom Handy, Downtown Pullman Association president and chairman; and WSU President Kirk Schulz.

Jeanne Weiler, downtown initiative coordinator, said the MOU is an agreement between WSU, the City of Pullman, and the Chamber of Commerce. The document acknowledges the groups’ unity in the revitalization of downtown Pullman.

Dymkoski said the city recognized that Schulz’s arrival in Pullman created an opportunity for Pullman to improve. The city also saw it as a chance for relationships to grow between the community and the university.

The groups’ collaboration encourages growth, she said. It gives each entity a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities the city has.

“We’re here today to celebrate the next step in formalizing this agreement to work together,” Dymkoski said.

Weiler said Pullman’s master plan is on a “parallel track” with the MOU. The plan is in its final stages and guides the improvement of downtown Pullman.

Johnson said the city hired the consulting group BDS Planning & Urban Design to help develop the master plan. The consulting group will present its suggestions during the City Council’s meeting on Feb. 25.

The city will use the information from BDS and build on it to direct how the city will increase economic development in downtown Pullman, he said.

“It’s no point at this time to say, ‘Ok, we’re going to go this direction,’ and then the consultant says something else,” Johnson said.

Weiler said it is the city’s responsibility to adopt the suggestions and decide whether to fund the recommended improvements.

The Town Gown Collaborative, a joint effort between the city and university, has helped in this process, Johnson said. The collaborative consists of various members from the community.

Dymkoski said the collaborative strives to make Pullman “an exceptional college town.”

Schulz said it is important for the university to do various things as a partner to help the community.

A graduate student was hired to interview business owners and obtain “concrete data” to see what community members think is important in downtown Pullman, he said.

“Sometimes, we only have people for three or four years,” Schulz said. “I still want them thinking: ‘If I can ever have that opportunity to come back, this is where I want to go.’”