Moscow-Pullman Daily News: “Survey: no more colleges downtown”

Moscow-Pullman Daily News, March 26, 2019, page 1Survey: no more colleges downtown

About 60 percent of Moscow respondents say university expansion would be negative
By Garrett Cabeza, Daily News staff writer

Most residents and downtown business owners are not fans of expanding educational institutions or adding new ones in downtown Moscow.

The city sent out two surveys — one to 1,200 Moscow residents and another to 276 businesses and property owners in the Central Business Zoning District (downtown Moscow) late last year.

Of the 1,200 residents, 293 responded — a 24 percent response rate.

Of the 276 downtown business and property owners surveyed, 110 replied back — a 39 percent response rate, and 60.91 percent of those business owners “strongly agreed” or “agreed” additional public and private colleges and universities should not be allowed within the CBZD.

Of those residents who responded, 60.41 percent also “strongly agreed” or “agreed;” 25.6 percent “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed.”

When asked if new colleges or expansion of current colleges would be positive or negative in downtown Moscow, 63.48 percent of resident respondents said they would be “somewhat negative” or “extremely negative” and 23.21 percent said they would be “extremely positive” or “somewhat positive.”

Meanwhile, 62.73 percent of business owner respondents marked either “somewhat negative” or “extremely negative” while 27.27 percent said “extremely positive” or “somewhat positive.”

The most mentioned positive features of current, new or expanded college campuses downtown by resident and business respondents were “economic growth downtown,” “more people/students,” “building renovation,” and the “WWAMI program.” The top mentioned negative features were “parking/traffic,” New Saint Andrews College/Christ Church, “loss of tax revenue,” “prevents future downtown business” and “losing small business community to college campuses.”

When asked if colleges should be allowed without an approved conditional use permit, 82.94 percent of resident respondents “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed;” 79.09 percent of business owners “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed.”

The responses didn’t change much when it came to colleges with approved conditional use permits; 58.18 percent of business owners “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” while 33.64 percent “strongly agreed” or “agreed.”

Of those resident respondents, 58.36 percent “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed;” 30.72 percent “strongly agreed” or “agreed.”

The complete survey results can be found on the city’s website.

The city council directed the city to conduct the surveys to gather perceptions of residents and business owners of downtown educational institutions. The councilors will discuss the survey results at Monday’s city council meeting.

In other business, the Public Works/Finance Committee on Monday recommended:

Moving a bid advertisement for the federal aid project that would reconstruct A Street from Peterson Drive to Cherry Street from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2020. The project was expected to be completed this year.
Delaying the implementation of the self-funded employee health benefits program until fiscal 2020. The rollout was expected around April 1.
Approving the Environmental Stewardship Award program, which is designed to recognize businesses that take steps to reduce their environmental impacts.
Approving a $6,000 agreement between the city and artist Camille Cote to create a mural installation that will depict the region’s aquifer system on the Water Filter Plant building on Jackson and A streets.

All four recommendations will be considered by the city council Monday.

Tyler Palmer, Moscow deputy director of operations for public works, also told the committee the Third Street temporary and portable bicycle/pedestrian bridge is expected to be delivered and installed in late April.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email togcabeza at dnews.com.

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