MOSES LAKE - The proposed location of a new Moses Lake elementary school is drawing concern from both the Port of Moses Lake and the Moses Lake City Council.
The selected site, which has not yet been purchased by the Moses Lake School District, is a 78 acre parcel located at the corner of Wheeler Road and Road L Northeast, in the east part of Moses Lake.
School district Superintendent Dr. Josh Meek says while the site of the new school has been announced, the district is in the standard “due diligence period” regarding the purchase of the site. Meek says the site selected is a larger parcel than needed for an elementary school and plans include developing about 15 percent of the parcel for the school and plans for the remaining portion to be determined, or considered for sale.
The school district has been made aware of concerns from the Port of Moses Lake, which has suggested the district explore other sites for the new school due to the parcel’s proximately to the Moses Lake Municipal Airport and plans to construct a rail line through the north end of the property.
Moses Lake City Council Member Daryl Jackson also voiced his concerns during Tuesday’s council meeting, addressing the future nearby rail line, the city’s airport and students’ safety.
“That particular piece (of land) lies right off the south end, at about 1,300 yards of the Moses Lake Municipal Airport. It’s in our traffic pattern,” Jackson said. “The Columbia Basin Railroad, along with FRA, Federal Railroad Administration, is going to build a brand new rail line through that property. In discussions with the school board chairman, apparently they don’t see any problem. I want them to explain to the parents of the children that will attend that school about the rail that’s going through there, in particularly, because it will be hauling hazardous material. And if you measure off the distance, it’s less than 700 yards to where they’re proposing the school.
Jackson said he has contacted the Federal Aviation Administration, the state Department of Transportation aviation division and a state representative. Jackson added its likely the FAA, FRA and state aviation officials would oppose the site.
“I think that that project will probably come to cease,” Jackson said. “I can’t imagine in their right thinking that they’re even talking about doing this, and that would be the school board.”
The city council agreed to send a formal letter to the school district stating their opposition to the proposed elementary school site.
Superintendent Meek said during the district’s due diligence period, all information, environmental inspections, traffic studies and other inspections and studies are completed for consideration, giving the school district “100 percent certainty that it is the right purchase and school site.”
The proposed site is zoned as residential and Meek says it’s likely at some point, the surrounding area will see an increase in residential development and new homes.
“We are excited to have a site location in the east part of Moses Lake where we have continued to see rapid growth and development,” Meek stated. “This school will provide enrollment relief for the schools in the area and allow for future growth in the area. Recently there have been many questions presented regarding the location, the future of the proposed Northern Columbia Basin Rail Project, and proximity to the local airport. Please be reassured that we are continuing to work through and learn more about those potential considerations, even those that we were aware of at the time of the offer.”
Meek stated the district’s early information shows the proposed rail location is more than 1,500 linear feet, close to 40 acres, north of the potential school, allowing an ample buffer space.
“We are also carefully looking at the impacts of the local air traffic and considerations and laws governing the surrounding areas,” Meek continued. “That being said we will continue to work with the interested parties such as the Port of Moses Lake to ensure this is a safe and appropriate school environment.”
Continued site review will be completed with various entities and regulatory agencies in a full study, review and analysis before the site is purchased, Meek stated.