Cities consider development, conservation for west end

By John Trumbo, Herald staff writerSeptember 21, 2009 

Plans for recreational development of 146 acres in Columbia Park's west end will be considered during a public workshop Oct. 21.

The meeting will be held in the park at the Kiwanis building, 6007 Columbia Park Trail, and will be led by representatives of a consulting company. BergerABAM of Vancouver will offer three alternatives for public review and comment.

This will be the second meeting for public discussion about development possibilities for the west end of the park, which includes areas within Kennewick and Richland. The cities hired BergerABAM to lead the workshops and prepare a master plan for development.

Approximately 50 people attended a June 17 meeting to brainstorm ideas for the park's future. Comments then focused on desired amenities such as walking and bicycling trails, better access to the Columbia River for swimming and boating, and facilities such as an amphitheater, aquatic center, hands-on children's museum and sailing lagoon.

Other ideas offered were a transportation museum to feature historic or unique boats, trains and cars from throughout the region, a nature learning center, a small amusement park, disc golf and an off-leash dog park.

But not all comments supported more development. Some people said the road through the park should be closed and preserving open space should be the priority. Others called for eliminating the duck pond and minimizing development that could add to congestion at the Edison Street access.

There also were written suggestions from 47 second-graders from Ridgeview Elementary School in Kennewick. Their most popular requests were for the park to have a swimming pool, concession stand, more fish in the family fishing pond, amusement park, baseball field, campground, swings and carousel.

The meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 21 will receive public comment about the three alternatives prepared by the consultant. Project staff will be on hand to answer questions and hear public comments and a Spanish translator will be available.

A community resource team of 18 people, which includes members of the Kennewick and Richland city councils, planning commissions, parks and recreation commissions, and representatives of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, Audubon Society and the Army Corps of Engineers, has helped guide the planning process.

The committee also will meet Oct. 21 before the public open house and workshop to review the alternatives and discuss progress toward the master plan.

Kennewick and Richland have teamed up on the master plan project because they share responsibility for use of the property. But the cities don't own the park; it is ultimately controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Following the open house Oct. 21, the project team and consultant will refine the alternatives into a preferred master plan to be considered by officials in Kennewick and Richland this winter.

To review the meeting summaries and guiding principles from the June 17 open house, go to www.ci.richland.wa.us and click on the "living" tab. Then follow the link to "parks and recreation" and click on the button for Columbia Park West.

Information also is available by calling Bill King, deputy city manager in Richland, at 942-7583.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com

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