Port seeks more comp plan input

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WALLA WALLA -- Local residents called for continued openness from the Port of Walla Walla and a broader focus on transportation Thursday as the agency looked for guidance in the development of its comprehensive plan.

Just two people testified during the Port's public hearing, adding to the 70 or so comments the agency has received through online surveys and other mechanisms in the months-long creation of its planning document.

Port officials hope extending the deadline for public comments will prompt more participation. The survey will continue to be live online through Nov. 30, said Lisa Key, project manager for David Evans and Associates.

Key said the Port's 73 comments are a "weak showing," despite best efforts to spread the word.

One final push is being made through the Walla Walla Trends newsletter, which has gone out to subscribers with a link to the survey.

Officials are looking for guidance from the public on the direction local residents want for the agency, said commission President Paul Schneidmiller.

He said residents may not have felt the need to participate if they hadn't been directly affected by Port business.

During Thursday's meeting Key continued to work with commissioners to tweak language in the document as details are fine-tuned.

The final version of the plan, which serves as a guiding document for development of Port properties and business, is expected to be before commissioners for approval Dec. 13.

Residents Barlow Corkrum and Stanley Green attended Thursday's hearing with suggestions for the Port.

Corkrum repeated previous requests he has made for the agency to record minutes from its work sessions. Earlier this year the Port installed an audio recording system so accurate minutes from its public meetings can be taken and accessed by the public. However, the agency does not have a practice of recording the work sessions that typically precede its regular meetings. Corkrum said he applauds the steps the Port has taken but wants the Port to also keep minutes of its work sessions.

He also suggested the Port could benefit from having more standing committees to serve the agency, particularly regarding real estate or budget decisions.

Green implored the Port to add local bus service to its web of support for inter-modal transportation. He said the agency's current focus on air, rail and highway transportation should be broadened to include the many bus services that link area and regional communities. He specifically hopes the Port will consider funding a terminal building downtown where all of the various bus services could converge.

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