Port of Kennewick moves forward on Vista Field Airport tank removal

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 23, 2014 

The Port of Kennewick is moving forward on plans to remove the fuel tanks at the former Vista Field Airport in Kennewick.

And efforts to create a master plan for the redevelopment of the 113 acres near the Three Rivers Convention Center should begin later this year.

The port recently awarded a $17,000 contract to 3 Kings Environmental of Battle Ground, to remove the fuel tanks, said Larry Peterson, the port's director of planning and development.

Another $5,000 contract was awarded to Blue Mountain Environmental of Waitsburg for monitoring and soil sampling with the tank removal.

A clean bill of health is critical for the future redevelopment of that part of the former airport, Peterson said. The tanks should be removed by the end of April.

The port also has had an asbestos survey done for the fixed-base operator building and the T-hangars, he said. The T-hangars were asbestos free, but 130 square feet of vinyl tile containing asbestos were found in the fixed-base operator building.

Peterson said the port will bid the asbestos removal project using the port's small works roster. The removal is expected to cost less than $5,000.

The port also may seek bids to demolish the T-hangars, he said. It's possible that the scrap metal value of the buildings would more than pay for the demolition.

Later this year, the port likely will start a yearlong master planning effort for the former airfield to help determine what ideas for the mixed-use development will work and what utilities and roads will be needed.

The port's 2014 budget included $250,000 for Vista Field planning. Port commissioners likely will be considering hiring consultant Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. to continue planning efforts. The Portland-based company already did an independent review of the former airport.

The vision for the property includes creating pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and a mixed-use area with housing, businesses and public spaces in close proximity. Port officials see it as a chance to bring a unique development to the Tri-Cities, rather than competing with existing developments.

"This is worth doing right," Peterson said.

The master planning process will include public outreach, Peterson said. It's a public asset and port officials want to make sure that the public has a chance to contribute to plans for what will replace the former airport, which closed Dec. 31.

The Kennewick Public Facility District's proposed master plan would reconfigure the Three Rivers Entertainment District toward the former airport.

Public facility district members recently told Kennewick City Council that their 20-year wish list for the entertainment district includes a performing arts center, a new center and second ice rink, parking garages and a second hotel attached to the Three Rivers Convention Center.

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-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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