The Chronicle: “Our Views: Centralia Station Project Presses Forward”

» Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in News | Comments Off on The Chronicle: “Our Views: Centralia Station Project Presses Forward”

Our Views: Centralia Station Project Presses Forward
The Chronicle
October 17, 2013

We’ve been in a rough economic ride in Southwest Washington.

Going back decades, the spotted owl and the decimation of the logging industry was a heavy body blow. In 2006 the mine at TransAlta closed, resulting in the loss of about 600 top-wage jobs (thankfully TransAlta continues to turn the turbines and still employs hundreds). That was followed in 2007 by the disastrous flood, and shortly thereafter several years of the Great Recession.

Today we still have high unemployment. Add this past two weeks of federal government shutdown frustration, and we really have been battered and bruised.

Our future, however, is bright. The recession ended, unemployment is slowly declining. We are in a growth pattern, especially here in Lewis County.

In Centralia, two exciting projects are underway. The sports complex at Fort Borst Park is nearly completed. That project promises to pump real tourist dollars into our economy year-round.

The other project is the Port of Centralia’s Centralia Station. This 43-acre development, just south of the Mellen Street interchange on Interstate 5, would include big retailers, an anchor tenant, restaurants, medical offices and other businesses. With its central location, it would link Centralia College to Centralia Station to Providence Centralia Hospital, creating an attractive middle entrance to the Hub City.

Aesthetically, it would incorporate the look of our historic rail town, including lamp posts similar to those already installed in downtown Centralia. If fully developed, it would create a vibrant city core from the north end of Tower Avenue all the way over the Chehalis River to the hospital, complete with a walking path running through the center.

During construction, hundreds would be hired to build Centralia Station, with more than 350 permanent jobs created.

Port of Centralia Executive Director Kyle Heaton has strategically moved this project forward, working closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Lewis Economic Development Council, Centralia College and the city of Centralia.

This week Heaton said the permitting process for Centralia Station continues to press forward, including plans to move about 20 acres of soil to build a stormwater and waste discharge system. Filed with the Department of Ecology, the state agency will take comment on the proposed project through Nov. 9.

Heaton said the State Environmental Policy Act requirements should be finished in the coming few weeks. In addition, a flood study is nearing completion and a traffic impact study is complete.

Heaton said the next step is to schedule a full series of public meetings on the various findings.

Lewis County truly is moving forward, and The Chronicle will be there reporting on Centralia Station as it moves first into the public process and then into the construction phase.

We anticipate the day we can stop by Centralia Station for a nice meal and an afternoon of shopping.