Thu, Mar 23, 2023
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Winlock considering Economic Development Committee to lead growth efforts

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The Winlock City Council has described a plan to form an Economic Development Committee for the purpose of researching and implementing ideas to bring about growth within the city.

Proposed by Council Member Sarah Gifford during the council's Dec. 22 meeting, the idea for such a committee had been prompted by frustrations Gifford said she and fellow residents feel toward the stagnation in Winlock, stating significant changes need to be made if the city is going to correct a trend of closing storefronts and significant utility rates.

"That could be anybody within city limits and anybody outside city limits that has ideas for growth in Winlock," said Gifford of those she envisions serving on the committee.

Gifford said one of the goals for committee members would be to connect with outside groups and see what their impressions of Winlock's potential would be. She noted a group of students from Washington State University have supported communities in such ways as part of their coursework, and this could be one option as far as seeking outside input for where Winlock should grow.

She said another goal of the committee could be to encourage residents within the UGA to incorporate into the city limits, as this would generate revenue both for utilities and the city's general budget, stating some residents along SR 505 have expressed a desire for incorporation so they could hook into the city's sewer and water systems.

Gifford had previously shared during the council's Dec. 8 meeting another plan to stimulate growth, in which she proposed the city suspend its utility hookup fees to encourage developers to build within the city limits, with the intention of re-instating the fees after goals for growth had been met.

She said she knew the proposal might sound extreme, but said she had found examples of other cities who had taken similar action, and felt extreme measures were needed to bring Winlock out of its present circumstances.

"This town's slowly dying, and I'm tired of watching it die, so it's going to take something drastic," she stated.

The council has yet to take action regarding either the hookup fees or the Economic Development Committee, though they are expected to continue discussion of such possibilities at upcoming meetings.

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