Bad blood between Clark County and the CREDC
In case you haven’t been following this week’s drama between the Clark County council and the Columbia River Economic Development Council, here’s the short version.
On Wednesday, Councilor David Madore said he won’t approve granting the CREDC its Associate Development Organization status, a designation that would make it eligible for about $160,000 in annual state funding from the Commerce Department. No county in state history has ever not named an ADO.
Why? Because the CREDC has been advocating for improvements to the Interstate 5 interchange at Mill Plain Boulevard in Downtown Vancouver, the exact same way it advocates for every other transportation project in the region. What’s special about the Mill Plain project, however, is that at one point it—among several other intersections on both sides of the state line—was a piece of the Columbia River Crossing. Madore has called the project the “CRC through the backdoor,” “light rail in disguise,” and numerous other names that have many local politicians scratching their heads.
The CREDC sent their response to the county this afternoon. Here it is reprinted in full:
May 21, 2015
The Honorable David Madore, Chair
The Honorable Tom Mielke, Councilor
The Honorable Jeanne Stewart, Councilor
Clark County Board of Councilors
PO Box 5000
Vancouver, WA 98666
Dear Chairman Madore and Councilors Mielke and Stewart:
Thank you all for your recognition of our strong performance relative to the activities required by the Associate Development Organization (ADO) grant agreement with the Washington State Department of Commerce. The purpose of this letter is to respond to your request that the CREDC abandon its policy of supporting the Clark County Transportation Alliance (CCTA) project list and to oppose a specific project prior to the County authorizing our re-designation as the ADO. Respectfully, the CREDC Board voted unanimously today to deny that request.
The Clark County Economic Development Plan ratified by the CREDC Board of Directors in 2011 calls for our organization to “continue supporting critical local and regional transportation infrastructure investments.” Furthermore, while not defining the entire scope of our organization, RCW 433.330.080 requires that the ADO “be capable of identifying key economic and community development problems, developing appropriate solutions, and mobilizing broad support for recommended initiatives.”
With regard to supporting infrastructure investments, the CREDC achieves this by informing and supporting the CCTA’s extensive transportation stakeholder meetings and subsequent legislative agenda, as well as relying on the expertise of the Regional Transportation Council. While our organization does not lobby, it is both appropriate and expected that we advocate and inform policymakers of the economic impacts of projects that receive wide community support.
The integrity of our organization and our commitment to our broad base of partnerships is critical to the organization accomplishing its mission. Further, it is paramount to any specific funding source. On behalf of the over 130 private and public partners in our organization, and for the economic wellbeing of our community, we respectfully ask that the Board of County Councilors move forward with re-designating the CREDC as the ADO for Clark County immediately and without condition.
Keep in mind that the CREDC has received ADO designation every two years for more than a decade. If the council does not name the CREDC its ADO, this money does not come into Clark County. Period. No other organization is qualified to become the county’s ADO, and the county only has until June 15 to designate an ADO so it is unlikely that another organization could find a way to meet those qualifications in time.
The council will likely discuss the issue again at its board time meeting on Wednesday, so expect more to come on this.