Our Voice: Regional cooperation behind aquatics center encouraging sign

February 5, 2013 

Supporters of a community aquatics center have been making ripples for many, many years.

Today, the proposal seems closer than ever to the edge of the diving board.

We're not ready to weigh in on the project just yet. That will come closer to when the ballots drop and we see what the Mid-Columbia would get for its investment.

In the meantime, however, we are impressed that the Regional Public Facilities District board has moved a project -- any project -- forward enough to put it to a public vote.

And they've done it in a (relatively) quick time.

It took longer to form the regional PFD than it has for the board to come to its unanimous decision last week.

A regional public facilities district is allowed under state law to tackle projects that cost $10 million and up and meet criteria as a recreational or public facility, but forming the district requires state approval and interlocal agreements. Those things take time.

Initial plans called for bringing a project to the voters in 2011. But we've all had plans that get waylaid for one reason or another. We understand how that goes.

It's a little past the 2011 timeframe, but considering the 20 years or longer that this community has been talking about a project, it's exciting to see something on the ballot.

Even the nonswimming patrons of the arts among us have to agree getting a project off the drawing board and onto the ballot is an effort worthy of recognition -- even if this isn't the project they wanted to see first.

In December 2010, members representing all three cities on the newly formed board looked at 18 community projects that have been kicking around for many years -- some big and some small.

As expected, a performing arts center, the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and an aquatic center rose to the top.

The board held community forums to solicit input from the folks who would be footing the bill -- an important step.

And over the next two years they sifted through the concerns and sentiments expressed by Tri-Citians.

It hasn't been too long ago that any regional project seemed out of reach -- with each city seemingly focused on what happened only within its own boundaries.

It's not that the cities fought with one another. But parochialism has fractured their approach to civic projects.

We don't see that these days. Instead, we are seeing more cooperation and coordination.

We are three cities (or more, depending on how you count), but we are one community.

It is encouraging to see a regional approach on so many fronts now.

And who knows? If we can get community support behind one project, others may follow.

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