The year started quietly for the Airway Heights City Council in its first meeting of 2013, with only two action items on the Monday, Jan. 7 agenda.
Airway Heights was recently awarded grand funding from the Transportation Improvement Board for pedestrian sidewalk improvements along Highway 2 from Garfield Road to Deer Heights Road.
City Manager Albert Tripp said the city was eligible to receive both urban and rural funding through a number of grants. In addition to the sidewalk improvement grant, it submitted applications to repair 21st Avenue and 14th Avenue.
The project’s total is $654,400, with $523,520 coming from grant funds. A local match of $130,880 is required from Airway Heights. The city built the amount into its second quarter budget for the year, so it’s already on the books.
The City Council unanimously voted to accept the grant funding.
Appointments to council ad hoc committees were listed on the agenda, however the City Council meeting style is different from the start of last year. Instead of having committees meet regularly throughout the year, one large council study session takes place on the fourth Monday.
Ad hoc committees met rarely, if at all, in 2012. Deputy Mayor Kevin Richey proposed that the committee makeup remain the same from last year.
A new ad hoc committee was formed for the transportation benefits district, comprised of council members Richey, Steven Lawrence Dave Malet and, as an alternate, Barron Williams.
During his staff report, Tripp said he was contacted by Catholic Charities regarding the Fairchild Protection and Community Empowerment Project taking place with homes in the Accident Potential Zone near the base’s runway. Catholic Charities asked the city if it was willing to consider donating part of its 70-acre park site toward the housing project.
Members of the City Council were somewhat hesitant, given the location of the property and the already planned future use of the park land.
“Discussions with the county were to move the UGA to the east of Hayford Road, north of Shamrock Paving,” Mayor Patrick Rushing said.
Some were concerned that, since the land was purchased with money from utilities, it wouldn’t be an appropriate use.
“The intent of that land was for recreation,” Richey said.
Lawrence suggested it be run by the public, specifically those living in the area in question.
The final word was the city was willing to work with Catholic Charities on the subject to find the best possible location.
Tripp also reported that the amount and value of housing in the city increased in 2012, showing signs of economic recovery in the city, as more homes were sold last year.
In upcoming events, Tripp said Fire Chief Mitch Metzger and Police Chief Lee Bennett are working on an informational town hall meeting for Sunset Elementary parents. The meeting, which is still in the formative stages, would explain how their respective departments would respond to an active shooter scenario.
Habitat for Humanity is offering free home repairs for veterans living in Airway Heights, Tripp said. A meeting in the council chambers Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. will provide residents with more information.
Rushing announced he was elected as chair of the Northeast Mayor’s Association and chair of the Spokane Regional Clean Air Authority. He also serves as the secretary of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce this year.
The next City Council meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.