URA leaders propose five projects in the Port of Lewiston district

LEWISTON, ID - The Urban Renewal Agency is currently considering several infrastructure projects in Lewiston.

Some of them are on city property while others are on Port of Lewiston property. Carol Zinke reports on why the port, which is its own taxing entity, is asking for financial help from the URA.

Members of the URA have narrowed a long list of potential projects down to eight. All of these projects are proposed to be in North Lewiston, The Nez Perce Terrace and downtown.

One of the largest areas involves Port of Lewiston property. URA leaders are proposing five projects in the Port District. Four of them are on property owned by the Port.

The Port collects its own tax money ... So our question is why do they need the URA's help? We reached out to Port Leaders to answer this question. Port Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl said the port doesn't have all the money needed to pay for the projects right now.

"It gives us an opportunity to be a little creative in using different sources of funding to get a project done quicker," said Hasenoehrl. "Otherwise, the Port of Lewiston would have to wait years to get some of these projects done. Some of the projects need to be addressed right away to bring businesses into the valley."

We also talked to Lewiston Mayor Jim Kleeburg about the issue since the City Council will ultimately make the final decision.

"Does it make sense for them to ask the URA to help develop the property?" said Kleeburg. "Well, yes, they can ask. The port is also a taxing entity; just like the URA, City and County is. So, the Port could certainly use some of their funds that they collect to develop the properties as well."

Hasenoehrl said combining resources from the port and URA hasn't been discussed... But it'll most likely be brought up at the next city council meeting.

"It's certainly an opportunity and it's certainly something the Port of Lewiston has done in the past when partnering with the Urban Renewal Agency," said Hasenoehrl.

The Port District is just one of three areas the Urban Renewal Agency is a part of. Hasenoehrl said the ultimate goal of the Port and the URA is to bring more jobs to Lewiston and increase economic value in the valley.

Lewiston City Council members will discuss all of the projects at their next meeting which is slated for July 14th. Next week we'll have more reports on other possible URA projects being considered.