October 18, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 26

EWU’s Gateway Project is a positive change for Cheney

In Our Opinion

With an electric Homecoming atmosphere in Cheney flowing from both Cheney High School and Eastern Washington University, October could someday be even more exciting with the addition of the Gateway Project at Roos Field.

The EWU homecoming parade, bed races and other events, combined with the high school’s events this year, make for a special weekend. We believe the Gateway Project will only help boost Cheney’s profile upon its completion.

Currently in the design and fundraising stage, the Gateway Project is a multi-use facility planned to help fill out the stadium around Roos Field. Featuring a new seating section, athletics offices, team locker rooms, and retail opportunities, the plan already has high expectations.

We believe the Gateway Project will help to continue the momentum earned from the 2010 national championship. With Eastern appearing as No. 1 in the Division 1 polls this week, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to upgrade Roos Field’s facilities. The university’s record enrollment this year, topping 12,500, also calls attention to EWU’s bright future, with continued growth in the near future.

With a slew of renovated and new buildings, like Hargreaves Hall, Patterson Hall, the Student Recreation Center and a new residence hall, all taking place in a five-year span, Eastern is ready to make the Gateway Project its next priority.

A recent online survey asked respondents what they’d like to see in the project. Whether that’s a sports bar, a goods store, a restaurant or other use, some of the use at the facility is wide open. But, certain uses could dynamically change the structure of Cheney yet again.

Should some commercial operations open, a restaurant for example, it would keep some students on campus more often instead of visiting a First Street location. That’s why now is an opportune time for local businesses to embrace the project and make headway on potential impacts they may see.

While the Gateway Project brings with it an incredible opportunity for Cheney, the university will need to turn a serious eye toward parking. Already, city streets are stressed with a high volume of commuters from Spokane and the West Plains seeking one of the precious spots near the EWU campus.

Despite the increase of students residing on campus, the Gateway Project will eliminate a large portion of student parking along Washington Street, only worsening the current situation. Throw in the new residence hall’s location, a former parking lot, and Eastern quickly needs to address this potential problem. And officials are already aware of the parking issue, which has been constantly at the top of every meeting on the Gateway Project.

EWU will continue to grow, of that we can be certain. Half of the university’s property hasn’t even been developed, with most of it sitting west of Washington Street. Just like the West Plains, the university is ready to grow at an incredible pace.

Money invested into facilities like the Gateway Project will help the university as a whole, including increased opportunities for students to pursue scholarships. A higher profile for the university will bring additional dollars to a number of programs, helping everyone across the board. Local sports, like those at the high school, will even benefit from this facility indirectly.

While celebrating the Homecoming weekend, keep in mind that Cheney has an incredible future ahead, in large part thanks to EWU. The importance of synergy between the community and the university cannot be emphasized enough, as that relationship helps the entire community to thrive. It’s time to embrace what the future has in store as a result of this plan.

It’s time to embrace the Gateway Project.

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