Cover Story | Small cities in a big-box world: A look at how Cashmere, Entiat and Rock Island preserve livability, foster economic vitality
WENATCHEE — "Let’s see what Chief Chilcosahasket’s doing today, guys.” Her two dogs respond by straining on their leashes for new things to sniff along Entiat’s Columbia River waterfront pedestrian trail — a big part of ...
It really isn’t fair to call them “bedroom” communities.
They are the towns within easy drives of Wenatchee and yes, they are home to many people who make that easy drive to their jobs, but Entiat, Cashmere and Rock Island are towns of their own, with unique characteristics.
And they are certainly not the same. Each of those communities faces challenges and opportunities as they maintain or develop their identities.
In this issue of Business World, we take a look at all three of these communities, and the differences are stark.
Cashmere, for example, is quintessentially small-town America. Driving down Cottage Avenue you see its history and experience its charm. That community flavor was cultivated long ago and is a huge part of its appeal as a place to live.
But it also is a town with challenges. Engaging the community in addressing those challenges and determining its future has been an ongoing process.
Cashmere also is larger than the other two and has a huge and growing company, Crunch Pak, that creates a flow of truck traffic in and out of town. Accommodating that traffic has been an ongoing process that continues.
Entiat is already well into the process of reinventing itself. A town that had its downtown flooded to make way for a dam, now has a shiny new park along the Columbia River and plans for rebuilding its core. Again, involving the community in those changes has been vital. With so much opportunity before them, the planning must be right for its longtime residents and also for those who will eventually call Entiat home.
Rock Island is like neither of the other two. Thanks to infrastructure improvements, growth is happening at a rapid pace,. New housing developments have sprung up with more in the works.
That town, too, has worked hard on its vision for the future. Community leaders know a strong and sustainable tax base is the key to successful growth.
It’s all quite exciting if you live in any of those towns, or even if your just following the progress from a distance.
But growth and change do not often come easily. In fact, things can get contentious when residents see what they have always known and loved being transformed, perhaps into something different.
That’s why it’s heartening to see longtime community leaders envisioning the future of their towns through citizen engagement.
With Wenatchee’s growth limited by natural barriers, we can expect those nearby towns to continue to grow. East Wenatchee already is stretching its boundaries as it grows. Not so much a small community anymore, it too struggles to develop its own community feel.
With a new year, Business World is preparing for two of our important annual honors. March 15, we will again present the Legacy Award to a longtime resident who has contributed greatly to the success of the Wenatchee Valley.
Then in April, we will open up nominations for another group of 30 Under 35. It’s always exciting to see the young talent in our valley recognized for their successes and promise.