MOSES LAKE – Levi Bisnett wants Moses Lake to be recreational and pedestrian friendly. As a project surveyor for the city, he gets the chance to realize this vision.
“It kind of plays into what I’ve been talking about for many years,” Bisnett said of his position. “What is the need to do things other than just roads, water, sewerage (stormwater drainage) and sidewalks.”
Bisnett said he sees a need to make the city more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, not just for transportation but to bring in tourism funds that can help the city thrive by channeling funds from outside the community to local businesses and community events will. To make this vision a reality, he traveled to cities and communities that let this process work for them. After looking at various options for such purposes, he said he was impressed by a few places, including San Antonio’s River Walk — a business district near the Alamo that focuses on restaurants and uses the city’s waterways to attract visitors to attract.
“One of the things that a lot of communities have done is light up these streams — underground streams — and create trails and businesses that exist along these water corridors,” Bisnett said.
Daylighting is the process of removing the cover of a stream that has been buried either intentionally by humans or through natural processes over time, Bisnett said.
Looking at places like San Antonio and others, Bisnett said he could identify places with potential in Moses Lake for similar improvements. One is a creek that flows under the former Grant County Fairgrounds near the downtown theaters. He envisions a series of pathways and bridges that would essentially connect McCosh Park to the Crystal Springs area and other downtown points. Not only would this attract more attendees to downtown events, but it would make walkability safer for Moses Lake residents — including students attending downtown schools.
Safety is part of every plan Bisnett is a part of. He’s also involved in a project that uses a roughly $105,000 grant from the Washington Transportation Improvement Board to build a trail link on Marina Drive, install signposts — simple signposts directing visitors to resources — and Add park benches and bike racks downtown and update the city’s Trails Master Plan, last updated in 2005.
“The work will start later this year,” he said.
Bisnett is also working to receive funding through the state’s Safe Routes to School program. If successful, the city would receive money that could be used for city pedestrian and bicycle routes to help establish walking and bicycle routes between Patton and Grape Drive along State Route 17 and make that area safe.
It’s not just about bikes and trails, though. Sometimes attracting visitors is about good food, Bisnett said. He played a key role in developing an idea that led to the Moses Lake City Council deciding to advance a $120,000 food truck space in downtown Moses Lake. Funding comes from about $6.7 million that the city receives through the American Rescue Plan Act. The 150-foot by 140-foot lot being remodeled is located pretty much in front of the Moses Lake Museum and near the downtown community garden. The idea is to have a compass rose – the direction indicator on a map – as inspiration for the site, using rotating food trucks to serve visitors at events or just on nice days.
“We’re going to create a shaded cell structure over the dining area and then you have your cardinal points – north, south, east and west. Then, if you’ve ever looked at a typical compass, you’ll see triangles that indicate degrees. So we’re going to have signage on each of them that says, “5.2 miles to the sand dunes; 1.78 miles to Fairgrounds.”
The idea is that people can see where they are in relation to other area attractions they might like, thereby promoting the city in a simple way that invites visitors to come and enjoy themselves – and the residents to help ensure they enjoy life in and around Lake Moses.
That’s a primary goal for Bisnett. Raised in Warden, southeast of Moses Lake, he stayed in the Columbia Basin to raise a family and give back to the community—something that keeps him busy.
“I have five kids, so I don’t know if I’m necessarily relaxing,” Bisnett said. “But I can spend time with them and do different things.”
In addition to his work with the city, Bisnett coaches soccer and basketball as part of the city’s Parks and Rec programs. He also spends time with his four daughters – Aiyla, Divya, Viviana and Aleana – helping them advance in their sporting endeavours, and recently celebrated the birth of his son Cyrus in March. And of course he enjoys spending time with his wife Dania.
However, Bisnett is not resting on his laurels after receiving approval for the food truck park. He is also working on designs for what is referred to as the “Inlet District”. The plan would take existing waterways – both natural and man-made – a forgotten former city garbage dump and other assets, clean them up and reuse them for recreational purposes. He’s not sure if the plan will be adopted and he’s in the process of speaking to community members about the concept for it, but he’s hoping it will be built in his lifetime. He is working to make Moses Lake a place where his children will want to live and have a great quality of life.
“I want them to live here, you know?” Bisnett said. “And so that this remains an attractive place for starting a family – that is above all the forest.”
Editor’s note: Levi Bisnett is one of the Columbia Basin people working to improve the lives of the Basin community. Included in today’s issue is our Strength of the Pool supplement, which we publish regularly to celebrate the people of their hometown who are trying to work to make the pool a wonderful place to live and play. From first responders to animal rescuers, this publication contains a little of everything that makes the communities we serve the heart of eastern Washington. If you have feedback on this or anything else in the paper, please email me at [email protected]