Mayor: Public takes infrastructure plan seriously

Three more town hall meetings to discuss the situation are scheduled.

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WALLA WALLA - The second of four town hall meetings on the proposed Infrastructure Sustainability Plan takes place this week.

On Feb. 18, city officials held the first town hall, where roughly 60 people attended a two-hour meeting on proposed utility rate increases to pay for replacing all city roads and water and sewer lines over the next 93 years.

"I was impressed with how seriously people took this issue," Mayor Barbara Clark said. "They really wanted to understand the conditions of the infrastructure; they wanted to understand the options available and how this was going to effect them or their neighborhood or their streets."

According to the city's Infrastructure Sustainability Plan, water and sewer rates would see a 50 percent increase by 2015 to pay for the massive overhaul project. If the City Council approves the plan, work could begin this year on roughly 1.5 miles of roads and pipes along Bryant Avenue and Bonsella, Palouse and Melrose streets.

Clark noted that the overall tone of the first town hall was "civil" and that people asked good questions and had legitimate concerns.

"They wanted to be sure their money was going to be well spent. And they wanted to be convinced that this work had to be done. But I think there was a real feeling that this is a problem that we face together and how are we going to take care of it in a reasonable way."

This week's town hall meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Housing Authority Gym, 501 Cayuse St. Other town hall meetings will take place on March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Walla Walla Community College Conference Center, room 185; and April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Whitman College Reid Campus Center Ballroom, 280 Boyer Avenue.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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