RICHLAND -- The city of Richland has big plans for revamping John Dam Plaza -- about $1.8 million worth.
The eyes of city parks officials who laid out the plan for the city council at a workshop this week gleamed like kids in a candy store as they talked about the features the park eventually could contain.
Senior Park Planner Dave Bryant's excitement was sparked by a fountain that will serve as the park's centerpiece, but also offer benches where strolling pedestrians can stop and dunk their toes in cool water on a sunny day, and waterfalls children can dart around and duck behind.
The center fountain will be surrounded by spaces where vendors can hawk food, drinks or arts and crafts. Another fountain will grace the entrance of the plaza at the intersection of George Washington Way and Knight Street.
At the Knight Street end of the plaza, the master plan includes a covered stage and graded seating forming a grassy amphitheater reminiscent of the one that Howard Amon Park once held.
Bryant envisions the amphitheater as a place where families can lounge in the grass taking in Live @ Five concerts or summer Smoovies features, or where people exercising their free speech rights can raise their voices at the political rallies that often pop up in the plaza.
Mayor John Fox was especially keen on the plaza remaining an open public forum.
"It is the Hyde Park corner of the Tri-Cities," Fox said, referencing the famous spot in London, England, where people are free to orate on politics and issues of the day. "It would be nice to acknowledge that in some way."
Bryant said the public forum theme could be incorporated into an information kiosk near the center fountain, and in public art pieces that will be placed throughout the park.
The Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended approval of the John Dam Plaza plan at its June 10 meeting after months of public input, workshops and public meetings.
The final decision on the plan rests with the city council.
A copy of the plan can be read online at ci.richland.wa.us and going to the Parks and Recreation page.