CWU News

CWU Involvement in Upper Kittitas County Economic Revitalization Chronicled

City of Cle Elum interns and CWU students Savannah Hutchins and Isaac Anzlovar at a public meeting with Cle Elum community membersThis spring, Phase 2 of the City of Cle Elum’s downtown revitalization project will begin. It will include improvements in the downtown core and upgrades to the stormwater infrastructure.

The first phase, completed last year, involved enhancements around First Street and Peoh Avenue. The modernization project was developed based upon significant community input.

“Through my advanced planning class at Central, we conducted focus groups with Cle Elum residents to determine what they wanted the downtown to look like,” said CWU senior Isaac Anzlovar, who will graduate in June. “We then wrote a city vision statement that outlined what they wanted to see.”

In April 2017, Cle Elum city planner Lucy Temple, with the assistance of the advanced planning class, conducted focus groups of various community members—including First Street business owners and Suncadia residents. The goal was to develop a cohesive vision for Cle Elum’s downtown that would to maintain its history and heritage while implementing a harmonious overall design.

It turned out that the consensus was for a more vibrant, welcoming destination for residents and area visitors to explore. Placement of seating benches, bike racks and waste bins, landscaping, pedestrian-level lighting, angled curbside parking, wider sidewalks, and improved pedestrian crosswalks were among the initial strategies employed.

The history of the city’s revitalization efforts, and CWU’s role in them, have been chronicled in the January/February 2019 edition of Cityvision Magazine in the article “Course Connection.”

“Through our major, we teach marketable job skills like GIS [geographic information systems], which is urgently needed by communities for development, planning, and resource management,” noted Jennifer Lipton, CWU geography professor and Anzlovar’s internship advisor. “The geography department strives to get our undergraduates involved in civic-engagement projects within the community. Because of Isaac’s familiarity with GIS, and the additional training he received in it from Drs. Robert Hickey and Sterling Quinn, he was able to become involved in Cle Elum’s comprehensive planning efforts.” 

It took nearly two decades to implement Cle Elum’s revitalization efforts, but benefits are already starting to be seen.

“We’re not sitting around and waiting for things to happen: things are happening now,” noted Temple. “We’re seeing buildings that sat vacant or weren’t being used—all of a sudden they’re being sold or renovated. It’s pretty incredible.”

And, the changes are providing new job opportunities, too.

“I have worked for the City of Cle Elum for the past two years,” Anzlovar pointed out. “Just recently, they hired me as full time as a planning technician.”

Photo: (L. to r.) City of Cle Elum interns and CWU students Savannah Hutchins and Isaac Anzlovar at a public meeting with Cle Elum community members

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,