Port seeks input on proposed downtown parking garage

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As preliminary plans for a downtown parking garage inch along, officials plan to reach out to the public for ideas, questions and thoughts.

Port of Walla Walla officials said on Thursday they plan to host a community outreach meeting in March on the topic.

A date for the meeting has tentatively been set for March 15. The two-hour meeting would give interested citizens a chance to learn more about the Port-funded parking garage study.

Parking has been among downtown's hottest and most debated topics for decades. Last year, in conjunction with the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, the Port hired USKH Inc. to create possible structure concepts at the city-owned lot behind Macy's on Alder Street. According to preliminary exploration, a multi-level lot could add anywhere from 89 to 208 spots to the existing 64 spaces in the lot at a cost ranging from $3.8 million to upward of $6 million, depending on how large it is.

Commissioners said the upcoming meeting would be a chance to get the greater public involved in the decision-making process. "That's the goal: To make this as public as possible so we can get input," Port Commission President Paul Schneidmiller said.

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In a Valley known for its food and wine pairings, a Waitsburg bar will pay homage to beer in a tasting event this weekend.

The Rogue Ale Tasting Dinner will take place Sunday at jimgermanbar. The event begins at 5 p.m.

Chef Melissa Davis will kick off the dinner with an amuse-bouche before a four-course meal that includes a venison carpaccio, roasted marrow bone, pheasant ragu and mascarpone-stuffed dates.

Five different Rogue ales will be featured: a Chatoe Rogue Good Chit Pilsner, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Brutal IPA, Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale and Chocolate Stout.

The cost of the event is $45 per person. For tickets contact Davis at melissadavisfood@gmail.com.

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Bacon Eggs, and possibly sandwiches?

According to a Facebook post from proprietors of the newest hot spot for breakfast, the downtown Walla Walla business plans to add lunch to the menu in about three weeks.

Operators promise to keep guests posted on the upcoming additions.

Bacon Eggs, 503 E. Main St., specializes in breakfast using locally produced ingredients, breakfast cocktails and Stumptown espresso. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday.

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A plan to build a light industrial park on excess landfill property may be a long-term vision. But officials are on a tight clock if they want to get started.

Development of the proposed industrial park would require a zoning change, which must be filed by the end of March, Port of Walla Walla officials said Thursday. If the deadline is not met, the Port and city would have to wait two years before making the request to the city's Planning Commission.

The Port and city have been in talks over the last year -- including a work session earlier this month -- on using excess property along the northern corridor of U.S. Highway 12 from Sudbury Landfill almost to Dell Avenue to develop businesses. The conversion from public reserve property to industrial land would provide a development option that doesn't currently exist to accommodate warehouse distribution operations companies transporting goods and even corporate offices. It could also help boost new development while returning the land to the tax rolls.

More than 1,000 acres are in and around the landfill. Even with several hundred acres developed as an industrial park, the city would have capacity to meet the needs of the community for the next two centuries, city officials have said. Operators of the Walla Walla Gun Club have also expressed interest in possibly locating their operation there.

How that would work with an industrial park has yet to be fully explored. In fact, numerous questions still remain about developing property at the landfill, including whether the city would retain ownership. The Port hired Vancouver, Wash., firm McKay amp; Sposito to draw up a preliminary layout for the property. Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said the firm will be contacted to help flesh out cost estimates for road work and utility installation/connections.

"We would want to know the cost estimates and the (ownership) structure" before proceeding, Kuntz said. "Both (the Port and city) want an industrial park. I don't think there's any question about that."

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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