Richland leaders hope to add more voices to the discussion about developing the park at the base of Badger Mountain, despite some neighbors having already said they want the park left alone.
The city is considering using an online survey to better gauge the greater community’s interest in development options for the popular park. The city is working on a 50-year master plan for the park and is trying to bring residents and community members into the discussion of what the park could look like years down the road.
“We might be interested in reaching out through the website (to see) what other Richland residents think about Trailhead Park,” said Joe Schiessl, the city’s Parks and Public Facilities director, during a Parks and Recreation Commission workshop earlier this month.
On Dec. 3, the city floated four development ideas for the 40-acre parcel: provide additional parking but otherwise leave the park untouched; construct a roughly 10-acre recreation center; build ball fields and parking spaces on about 11 acres; or create an “adventure park” with zip lines, shelters and gazebos, and chairlifts and alpine slides built into a lower area of the hill. All but the first option received criticism from the approximately 40 people who attended the meeting.
City officials are considering creating a survey to broaden the pool of respondents, as most of the attendees at the meeting lived in the immediate area of Trailhead Park and were of an older demographic.
“When you look at the make-up of the crowd, there were no children, no young adults,” said Phil Pinard, Richland’s Parks and Public Facilities manager.
The city may put a survey online through a website like SurveyMonkey, which offers both free and paid services. City officials also are considering holding a second community meeting in central Richland that may be easier for residents to attend. The Dec. 3 meeting was held at the city shops on Duportail Street.
“We had 40 people out of 49,000,” Pinard said, explaining the city’s thinking behind inviting more voices to the table.
Annual visitation to Badger Mountain has increased from 30,000 to about 200,000 in the past five years, and more visitors have equaled more vehicles.
Parking was at the forefront of issues broached by the public during the recent meeting. Regardless of what else a future master plan contains, it likely will hold a solution to the parking problems. The Port of Kennewick has conditionally agreed to contribute $150,000 to relieving parking problems at Trailhead Park as long as Richland officials develop a plan of action that takes into account the community’s wishes. The Port of Kennewick dedicated $10,000 to that effort in September.
The topic of further community surveys was discussed Dec. 11 at a Richland Parks and Recreation Commission workshop. No action was taken.
Commission member Jim Buelt favored leaving the park as is and suggested the online survey be limited to residents living within two miles of the park.
Fellow commissioner Nancy Doran said that while polling park users for the failed Proposition 14-7 conservation futures fund initiative, she encountered Badger Mountain visitors from across the Tri-Cities and the state.
“It’s not a two-mile radius,” she said. “People are coming from all over.”
The survey could be up and running in one to two weeks, said Richland Communications and Marketing Director Trish Herron. She anticipates it being available online for one to two weeks, although Pinard said it could be up for a month.
Once the survey results are tabulated, Pinard said the matter could come before the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission in two to four months. The commission could then send a recommendation to council.
Depending on that recommendation and the council’s direction, Pinard said additional parking at Trailhead Park could be built as early as next spring or summer.