Tri-City, West Richland mayors discuss cities' bond

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMay 22, 2013 

A sellout crowd of 460 attended the annual State of the Cities luncheon Wednesday at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel.

Mayors from the four cities -- Kennewick, Richland, Pasco and West Richland -- collaborated this year on a video called, Partnering For Success. It highlighted the cooperation and teamwork between the quad cities in construction projects, community issues and economic development.

The video featured vignettes by community leaders and comments from Kennewick Mayor Steve Young, West Richland Mayor Donna Noski, Richland Mayor John Fox and Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins.

Partnering For Success called the four cities the most economically sound community in the state and the second largest metropolitan area in Eastern Washington.

In the video, the mayors discussed how the cities and counties worked together to increase public safety.

"Criminals don't recognize boundaries," Young said in the video.

Neither do the police and sheriff departments, or the city and county fire departments.

Visitors to the area don't see boundaries between the cities either, Fox said in the video. Yet each city has retained its own unique niche, its own personality, he said.

Noski pointed out in the video that the four cities complement each other.

"Pasco has the soccer fields, Kennewick the Southridge Sports Complex, Richland its open trails and West Richland, the gateway to Red Mountain," she said.

After the Partnering For Success was shown, each mayor highlighted their city's major projects. Young, Noski and Watkins spoke at the luncheon. Fox, who was unable to attend, sent a video.

Watkins said Pasco is looking at industry to bring in more tax revenue. He also said the city intends to redo Oregon Avenue and will be spending $700,000 to improve traffic flow on Road 68. That project should be done by mid-summer.

"In all, Road 68 is a good problem to have," he said.

Noski went over the same working together message in Partners For Success, saying, "We need to concentrate on the one voice message."

Financing Richland's infrastructure is going to be a problem, Fox said in his video message. The city has leaned heavily on state and federal grants in the past but those are becoming fewer.

Richland, he said, is going to have to step up and find its own way to finance future projects.

Kennewick residents, Young said, will continue to see development in the Southridge area, including a new restaurant, The Rock Wood Fired Pizza, and the Carousel of Dreams.

In Kennewick's Three Rivers Entertainment District, Springhills Suites by Marriott soon will break ground by the convention center. The city is also considering expanding the convention center and improving or replacing the Toyota Center, he said.

Young said Kennewick recently celebrated the opening of Steptoe Street from Center Parkway to Fourth Avenue. The next step is extending Steptoe to the Five Corners area and then connecting Hildebrand Road.

"This will create another major transportation loop around Kennewick and allow the other cities to get closer to us," Young said.

The annual State of the Cities luncheon was presented by the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Baker Boyer Bank.

During the luncheon the chamber also honored Pasco's Ovidio Castillo, 16, a Chiawana High School student, with the 2013 Hughesman Award. The award honors a youth in the Tri-City area who has demonstrated excellence in community involvement and volunteerism.

The award includes a $1,000 scholarship from the Young Foundation.

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