Community forums yield ideas for Pasco

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMarch 19, 2014 

Pasco residents had ideas grand and small at two community forums the city played host to this week.

City staff plans to take the information gathered Tuesday at TRAC and Wednesday at the Pasco Senior Citizens Center and use it during the council's retreat next month, City Manager Gary Crutchfield said. The council will use the information when it puts together goals for the next two years.

Jesse Garza, who lives on Road 84, was one of several people Tuesday to say the city should consider building a smaller aquatic center of its own. Pasco was the only city to have a majority of its residents vote in favor of a tenth of a percent sales tax to pay for a regional aquatic center during a vote last year.

"The Tri-Cities has been promised an aquatic center for 20 years," Garza said. "It's never come about. It's something that would bring the community together."

Some suggested TRAC as a good site for the facility.

But the city would not be able to pay for a large indoor aquatic center on its own, even with a two-tenths of a percent tax, Crutchfield said. State law would require Pasco's public facilities district to spend at least $10 million on the facility.

The city should also consider putting sidewalks in along Argent Road near Chiawana High School in west Pasco, Garza said.

"With the new school, there a lot of kids walk on the gravel," he said. "It's just a tragedy waiting to happen."

Others expressed problems with energy-efficient lights Pasco recently started using to illuminate streets. They said they make it harder to see than traditional street lights.

Crutchfield acknowledged that the new LED bulbs do not spread light out as much along streets, which creates a gap, but said they use half the electricity of traditional bulbs. They also last up to 20 years compared with three or four for a traditional bulb.

"You've got to weigh the cost of providing the light system," he said. "Nobody wants to raise taxes, but the price of electricity keeps going up."

Ideas raised Wednesday included putting nets on the basketball goals in city parks and enforcing laws prohibiting people from having too many cars in their yards.

Some of the trails along the Columbia River are in bad shape, William Heaton said.

"We get a lot of high-speed bicycles going through there," he said. "It's too narrow and a lot of it is deteriorating."

The areas in question are where the trail is built atop a levee, Crutchfield said. He said the city would like to take the levee down so it can put the trail on level ground, but the Army Corps of Engineers has required all levees to be analyzed before work is done on them since the floods caused by levee failures in 2005 in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

"We're still waiting to have ours analyzed," he said.

Del Lathim suggested that the city make its water towers more colorful, possibly painting one to resemble an asparagus spear.

Lathim also said the city should sell land at a low price to tribes who can build a casino.

"You can get seven or eight tribes together to build a Las Vegas-style casino right here in Pasco," he said.

Wednesday's meeting was attended by 20 people, about twice the size of Tuesday's audience.

People at both meetings said the city needs to do something about traffic congestion in the area around Road 68 and Burden Boulevard.

Many of the concerns will be addressed in work the city is already doing, said Ahmad Qayoumi, city public works director. Crews recently started changing the traffic signals to allow them to be preempted by emergency vehicles. They will begin putting in new medians and turn lanes in May.

The city still needs state approval to build a planned dual right turn lane onto Interstate 182 from southbound Road 68, Crutchfield said.

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

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