Pasco City Council appoints 3 new members to downtown board

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMarch 3, 2014 

The Pasco City Council appointed three new members to the Downtown Pasco Development Authority's board Monday evening.

Isaac Cortez, a branch manager at Bank of the West, Jacob Gonzalez, transportation planner with the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments, and Ana Ruiz Peralta, an insurance agent with New York Life, were appointed.

The development authority seeks to strengthen downtown Pasco. It oversees the farmers marker and events such as the Fiery Foods Festival.

Cortez told the council during interviews last week that he would like to see downtown return to how it looked when he visited as a child, coming in from Othello.

"I've heard that before my time it was a mecca, or the hub, of the Tri-Cities area," he said.

Cortez told council he would like to see more diversity among the businesses downtown. He said the development authority could help guide businesses in finding different products to introduce.

Downtown Pasco is unique in the Tri-Cities, but diversifying businesses could make it attractive to more people in the area, Gonzalez said last week.

"It's one of the few areas in the Tri-Cities where you can get out, take the bus there and spend a couple hours," he said.

Peralta had served on the board before, but stepped down when she took her job last year. She told the Herald she now has the time to do both.

"I'm still very involved and very passionate about downtown," she saidbefore Monday's meeting. "It's still my dream and a lot of people's dreams to have a very vibrant downtown."

Cortez and Gonzalez's board positions both expire in December 2016 and Peralta's position expires this December.

The council also reappointed Port of Pasco Commissioner Jean Ryckman, a retired Franklin Public Utility District manager, and Ofelia Ochoa, a downtown business owner, to thenine-member downtown development authority board. Both terms expire in 2018.

Council members praised the five people they interviewed last week who applied for the positions and encouraged those who weren't selected to apply for other city boards.

Also Monday:

-- The council approved allowing the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau to access $134,000 from the bureau's reserve fund. Most of the money will go toward a new website, while $4,000 will bring a sports sales manager in starting April 1, which is six weeks earlier than planned. Kennewick and Richland's city councils must also approve the request.

-- The council approved vacating 10 feet on either side of South Myrtle Avenue between East A and B streets. The reduction will bring the street's right of way down to Pasco's standard 60 feet.

The council also vacated an undeveloped portion of Whipple Drive near Court Street in west Pasco.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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