Projects filling Port of Kennewick's docket

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJune 28, 2014 

The Port of Kennewick's 2015 to-do list is filling up with the construction of three winery incubator buildings on Kennewick's Columbia Drive, planning for Vista Field's redevelopment and Clover Island shoreline improvements.

That has port Executive Director Tim Arntzen suggesting the port use next year to catch up on previously planned projects.

The past few years have been jam-packed for the port, and staff and finances are limited, he said. Having a few valuable projects in the list instead of overloading it may be wise, he said.

The work plan, along with the budget, will be sketched out this summer and fall.

The port's wish list for next year already is massive, with 13 people handling the day-to-day port business on top of capital projects.

The port is working on building three new winery incubator buildings on the 400 block of Columbia Drive before crush next year.

Arntzen said the port likely will end up investing about twice the $1.3 million it committed when the port and the city of Kennewick decided to work together on a boutique wine village called Columbia Gardens.

And he said he'd like to have the option of kicking off a second phase of the project if the first phase is successful.

A first draft of the master plan for the redevelopment of the former Vista Field Airport near Kennewick's Three Rivers Convention Center may be ready in the spring or summer of next year, Arntzen said.

Planning will take time because port officials want to be sure to try to incorporate what the public wants to see, Arntzen said. The first shovel of dirt still may be five years out. The port also will need to look at working with the city of Kennewick on infrastructure for the 113-acre mixed-use development.

"The port does not have enough money to do even the start of Vista Field by itself," Arntzen said.

And it will take bite-sized chunks to get there. "We can do it, but we have to make sure that we keep it in perspective," he said.

The port and Army Corps of Engineers also are planning a project to improve Clover Island's eroding edges, public access and fish habitat along the shoreline.

Arntzen said it looks promising. The port may be able to get a significant federal grant to help with construction costs, but would still need to come up with local dollars.

It's difficult to bring businesses onto the island without stabilizing the shoreline, he said.

Also on the island, the port plans to start construction on the first phases of boardwalk improvements and a plaza for the Village at Island Harbor, a 1.25-acre mixed-use development on the south side of the island between Ice Harbor at the Marina and the new Clover Island Yacht Club.

Arntzen said the port also wants to be open to suggestions from the public as the work plan for next year is developed.

The port commission meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. at 350 Clover Island Drive in Kennewick. Public comment is accepted at the beginning and end of the meeting and before port commissioners vote.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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