Staff Reporter 

Survey would scope out ML future


Residents in Medical Lake will soon have the chance to provide insight into what direction they want the city to grow.

The Planning Commission, at its Thursday, Feb. 28 meeting, discussed preliminary plans to send out a survey to city residents regarding future development in Medical Lake. A similar survey was mailed out with utility bills in 2001 by an outside partner, asking what priorities residents had for the city. The top results from 12 years ago included having more sit-down family restaurants, additional fast food facilities, clothing stores, a bigger (or additional) grocery store and a youth center.

The commission said Medical Lake was still without the new Denny’s building at the time the survey was mailed out.

Commissioner Mark Hudson suggested having the town develop around an identity, citing Leavenworth, Wash. as a good example of growing around a theme.

“When Leavenworth did their theme, it was the rage,” city planner Glenn Scholten said.

While the Bavarian tone works for Leavenworth, it was suggested that Medical Lake could look into its roots. The city has an extensive history with its most attractive natural feature: the lake.

“We were known at one time because of the healing properties of the water,” Hudson said.

Members of the commission noted that the city itself could only do so much in improving the appearance. Several buildings in the city core sit vacant and dilapidated, unappealing for a potential business owner.

Medical Lake grew by 1,043 residents over the course of 11 years, which marked only a 2 percent rate. Scholten said small cities typically like to see 5 percent growth.

“We’re growing, but I don’t know if our commercial area is growing with the city,” Scholten said.

Commissioners suggested starting with the right of ways to improve the city image, which would in turn encourage the vacant commercial property owners to step up. From there, it could have a snowballing effect, energizing some development along the way.

“Let capitalism do its thing, but there has to be a reason for people to come here to begin with,” Hudson said.

Medical Lake, Scholten said, faces steep competition from Cheney and Airway Heights, as well as Spokane, for residents.

“We’re never going to be a Cheney,” he said, highlighting the bedroom community status of the city. “But it can be nice here.”

Additional water units from the closure of Pine Lodge will provide some room for future growth, Scholten said. The final number of units, however, is still being debated at the state level.

More details on the survey will come in the near future.

Following the City Council’s vote to reject an amended memorandum of understanding with Spokane County regarding its Joint Land Use Study document, the Planning Commission suggested otherwise. The commission voted to recommend approval of the county-amended memorandum of understanding for JLUS.

Scholten said the board of county commissioners is waiting for Medical Lake’s approval of the document to send a letter to the Air Force regarding JLUS’ universal acceptance. The letter is being formed in hopes to sway the Air Force relocation committee to bring the new KC-46A tankers to Fairchild Air Force Base.

James Eik can be reached at


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