New fire station tops Kennewick City Council wish list

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 10, 2013 

Kennewick's fifth fire station topped the wish list of desired projects presented to the Kennewick City Council by a group of local residents and community leaders.

The eight-person Blue Ribbon Commission gave the council a look Tuesday at the results of its work prioritizing the list of 100 unfunded projects.

Their efforts during the last 15 months have created a six-year plan as well as one for the next two decades that the council can use for future planning.

Kennewick Councilman Greg Jones said it's a little overwhelming to think about trying to pay for all of the projects.

But he said he appreciated the commission's efforts and how it attempted to balance base service needs with projects to attract new business.

Kennewick has already been working on the committee's suggested top priority: a fire station on 10th Avenue near Kellogg Street.

The city earlier this year bought an acre of land for the project. Kennewick Fire Chief Neil Hines said the city is still negotiating with several property owners to buy more so a fire station can be built.

Hines has said the proposed fifth station would better serve areas that do not currently meet travel time goals and would improve travel times for other areas when the closest station's crew is out on another call.

Second on the committee's short-term list was upgrading and maintaining the city's network server, which has been unstable, city officials said.

No. 3 was expanding the Three Rivers Convention Center, which officials have said is necessary to keep current business and to continue to be competitive in the region. Voters recently turned down a proposal to pay for the expansion using a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax.

Projects four through six scored the same, according to the committee.

No. 4 is building infrastructure needed in the Bridge to Bridge area. The city and Port of Kennewick recently entered into an agreement to work together to jump-start development of a boutique wine village on Columbia Drive. Kennewick is looking at paying for a wine effluent treatment plant and other improvements, including extending the existing nature trail around Duffy's Pond and paving parking lots and driveways.

No. 5 on the list is the city's pavement preservation program.

Sixth is replacing Kennewick police cars. Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg said the city has been replacing police vehicles every three years.

But with the switch to new Ford Police Interceptors, which are designed specifically to be police vehicles, Hohenberg said the department hopes to stretch that to six years. The city has already replaced about 22 of its marked cars with the Interceptors.

Seventh on the list is the next phase of the Southridge Sport Complex, which could include another pavilion for indoor sports and a recreation area for younger children, said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young.

No. 8 is adding an intersection on Highway 395 at Ridgeline Drive. Young said the connection is needed to help bring more business into the south end of Southridge. The intersection could be a roundabout, which would be less expensive, he said.

Committee members said they created a process that council members can use as they add and subtract projects and as opportunities for money becomes available.

They also included suggested ways for how to pay for the projects.

Next, the committee is going to put together a report outlining the city's funded future projects, the six-year proposed priority projects, and the 20-year proposed projects, Young said. The committee will also create a plan on how to implement the six-year proposals.

City Manager Marie Mosley said the committee's work will be a useful tool as the council faces decisions next year of what to fund in the next biennial budget.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512;

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