Two Kennewick residents urged Port of Kennewick commissioners to firm up plans for a performing arts center at Vista Field.
The performing arts center could go somewhere else, Ed Frost told port commissioners last week. Having the interim and permanent version at Vista Field will be critical to bringing in businesses and other development to that area, Frost said.
Using a temporary performing arts center as the nucleus for the first phase of redevelopment at Vista Field is part of the draft plan consulting firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. drew up last week for the 113-acre site based on community input.
Frost told commissioners they should reserve land for the center once the port receives the draft master plan. Commissioners also should consider a long-term lease, maybe for $1 a year, he said.
Barb Carter of the Kennewick Arts Commission echoed Frost’s comments.
The interim version could be built using materials, such as metal beams, that are part of buildings already at Vista Field and could feature two indoor stages and one outdoor one. Architect Andrés Duany suggested using it to build up audiences and to defeat some of the skepticism about the need for a more ambitious version.
The draft plan includes an entertainment district centered around the performing arts center and near the Three Rivers Convention Center that would include restaurants, cafes and nightlife. Residential areas also are part of the proposal.
Commissioner Tom Moak thinks the success of the project will rest on the port’s ability to work with public and private entities to spread the promise of Vista Field beyond the port-owned property, he said. He mentioned the idea of a “super block” of the properties within walking distance of the airport.
Officials can begin discussions with the city, Kennewick Irrigation District, Benton County and other adjacent property owners about the portions that would require partnerships now that the port has a draft concept for Vista Field, said Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development.
The port had about 220 Tri-Citians participate in the interactive workshops at different times, Peterson said.
Duany Plater-Zyberk’s draft of the community’s concept of a redeveloped Vista Field will be revised and clarified, Peterson said. A draft layout and economic projections for the project should be available by late January.
Frost told the commission that he believes the interactive workshops were the best way to engage the community in a planning process that he has seen in 45 years.
The port is taking public comments on via email to email@example.com. For information from the planning process, including a video, go to http://portofkennewick.org/about/vista-field.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved the port’s biennial budget for 2015-16. It’s the first time the port has budgeted for two years at a time.
The port’s total budget for both years is about $15.9 million, with about $8.9 million of that for the next two years of capital projects. Commissioners previously approved a two-year plan that includes work on Columbia Drive, Clover Island and Vista Field.
Port commissioners also unanimously approved setting the port’s levy rate at nearly $4 million for 2015. The actual levy and levy rate will be set by the county assessor’s office, which is still working on the value of new construction, said Tammy Fine, the port’s finance director and auditor.
The commission approved taking the 1 percent increase allowed by state law in addition to new construction. Commission President Don Barnes compared the increase to a cost-of-living adjustment. That will mean collecting about $40,000 more next year than the port did last year, but officials say individual taxpayers won’t pay more.
The levy rate is expected to be at or less than this year’s rate of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, Fine said.
The port’s levy rate has gone down since 2001, when it was 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a $200,000 home paid $88.06 to the port in 2001. The owner of a home of the same value paid $66.74 to the port in property taxes this year.