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Burbank Water System wins “Above & Beyond” award

“We are fortunate to have a Port Commission with a vision to develop a water system with community-wide benefit.”

Dr. Lou Gates, Superintendent

Columbia School District

    The Port of Walla Walla’s Burbank Business Park Water System has earned the Washington State Department of Health’s “Going Above & Beyond Award.”
    “The Port went above and beyond meeting their own needs by expanding their water system to help the community solve a public health problem,” said Denise Clifford, director of the state health department’s Office of Drinking Water. “Thanks to their efforts, the Port’s neighbors, including the students at the Columbia School District, will have safe, reliable drinking water.”

    “In today’s challenging times it would have been far easier for the Port to have developed a water system just to serve its Burbank Business Park,” said Dr. Lou Gates, Columbia Schools superintendent. “We are fortunate to have a Port Commission with a vision to develop a water system with community-wide benefit.”
    In addition to students and staff, the system provides a better water source for the 100 residential customers of the Columbia View Water System which has connected to the Port source.

    The new water plant was designed to address high nitrate levels in Burbank’s core wells with the installation of a stateof- the-art nitrate removal system.
    Funding assistance for the $3.5 million water plant came from a $1.6 million state appropriation and a $721,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
    U.S. Senator Patty Murray was instrumental in obtaining EPA funding, while state funds were supported by the late Representative Bill Grant., Senator Mike Hewitt and Representative Maureen Walsh.

Port submits redevelopment proposal for VA surplus properties

    As the lead economic development agency for Walla Walla County, the Port of Walla Walla has submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of surplus properties at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center.
Among other things, the Port’s “hybrid enhanced use lease program” calls for the creation of a full time executive position dedicated to the redevelopment and reuse of surplus properties and buildings on the VA campus.
    The proposal also maintains that by paying the Port to take over the master lease for all surplus buildings and properties the VA could save an estimated $3.2 million over a 10 year period. The current VA budget suggests that $1 million a year is spent on surplus buildings and property.
    VA officials have the Port’s proposal under consideration.

    After discussing potential uses with more than a dozen “key stakeholder groups,” (veterans groups, cities, Walla Walla County, school districts, social service agencies and youth sports programs) the Port’s initial perspective on the surplus parcels laid out by the VA is as follows:
    Parcel A - Identified in the City of Walla Walla master plan as the Business District. This area of the campus will represent the most challenge for redevelopment due to the size of
the buildings and lack of adequate parking.

    Parcel B - Reserved for a Washington State Veterans’ Home. The Port is very supportive of this proposed use. It would help bring a sense of place to the campus and help create demand for on campus ancillary services.
    Parcel C - Pacific Little League Baseball Fields. The league does a great job maintaining the property. This use should continue via a long term lease between the Port and Pacific Little League.
    Parcel D - Youth Football Fields. Multiple redevelopment opportunities exist for this parcel. A joint Walla Walla County and Blue Mountain Action Council Human Services building could be the first project to proceed on this parcel. It could include catering and laundry services that would support the VA Medical Center. Housing on this parcel should also be explored. The Port will work with the city to make sure walking path connectivity remains on this parcel and other parcels throughout the VA campus.

VA surplus

The Port will also look to the city to help defi ne what type of recreational ball fields are needed within this area of town and what role the VA campus should play.
    Parcel E - Officer Row Quarters. The Port is cautiously optimistic that it can obtain state and federal funding for redevelopment of Officers Row. lt is imperative these buildings are restored to productive uses and become the catalyst for an economic resurgence on campus.
    Parcel F - Parcel Adjacent To Blue Ridge Elementary School. This parcel should be controlled and developed by the Walla Walla School District which has plans for an early learning school on this site, with possible intergenerational activities involving students and veterans.
    Parcel G - Poplar Street Parcel. This parcel has the best commercial use opportunity. It also contains the historic material storage building which would be incorporated into the redevelopment of the parcel or relocated on the campus.
    Parcel H - Children’s Museum Parcel. No changes are anticipated here.
    Parcel I - Parade Grounds. Recognizing this is sacred ground to our veterans, the Port would maintain its current use.
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