The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District board plans to work with an existing group rather than convene its own community task force to come up with a project road map.
The regional board agreed to the idea at a recent meeting. Members Sandra Kent and Kathy Blasdel are set to take part in Brand Implementation Leadership Team meetings.
The brand implementation group includes representatives from the four local cities, two counties, local ports and other entities.
The group will work on recommendations made in the community branding, development and marketing action plan, which was created by consultant Roger Brooks and unveiled last year. It lays out ideas ranging from a regional signage system to a signature performing arts venue and year-round public market.
The work was paid for largely by the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Visit Tri-Cities and the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC.
The road map for the future was driven by the 2013 failure of a ballot measure to build a regional aquatics facility. Members of a subcommittee of the public facilities district board met with Tri-City officials during the last few months, including from the regional chamber.
“It became apparent that it would be a duplication of efforts” to create another task force while the branding group is doing some similar work, said Don Britain, president of the public facilities district board and mayor pro tem of Kennewick.
Lori Mattson, president and CEO of the regional chamber, said it makes sense at this stage.
“I know that our committee is early in its process,” Mattson said. “I don’t think we’ll be able to answer all the questions the (public facilities district) has, but interaction on the committee will help those members determine what our group can provide them and in what areas they need to look elsewhere.”
The regional public facilities district formed in 2010 to go after regional projects no one city could afford alone. The group considered several ideas before settling on pursuing a regional aquatics center. A one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax appeared on the ballot in Richland, Pasco and Kennewick in 2013.
It was embraced by voters in Pasco, where the aquatics facility was to be located, but Kennewick and Richland voters rejected it, and it failed overall.
The regional public facilities group has been working in the months since to determine a path forward.
Vic Epperly, a former Kennewick city councilman and mayor who’s been following the work closely, said the regional public facilities district must engage the community to be successful with a future ballot measure. He suggested a structured process, including a large community forum.
The branding implementation team is a closed group , and going that route won’t provide enough public input, he said.
Britain noted that the branding group is comprised of leaders from organizations that represent the public. Mattson said it’s just started its work and will engage the public.