Drawing in more commercial and industrial development to Pasco remains a high priority for Pasco City Council.
Opening up state-owned farmland in the city for development, attracting industrial development and finding grants to build the Lewis Street overpass were among the top goals that city council members set during their retreat Saturday.
Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins said the city wants to convince the state Department of Natural Resources to sell about 300 acres of undeveloped land between roads 68 and 84 south of Interstate 182.
The city is developing around it, and Watkins said the city would rather see new homes and businesses added to that chunk of land rather pushing farther north. The city also would like to run sewer and streets through the land instead of around it.
That would support the city's desire to increase the tax base. Pasco's tax base is lower per capita than Kennewick or Richland because residential development has outpaced commercial and industrial development.
The council is will continue promoting and marketing industrial development as a goal. Watkins said it's one the city wasn't able to meet in the past two years.
The city must bring in some outside expertise for industrial marketing so it is well poised for industrial development as the economy improves, Watkins said. That includes focusing on Oregon Avenue, the Heritage Industrial Center and the Pasco Processing Center and partnering with the Port of Pasco.
Finding grant funding to finish the $31 million Lewis Street overpass remains a priority. The city has been working long enough to land state and federal grants to replace the aging railroad underpass with an overpass that Watkins expects to see results.
The city intends to obtain $10 million each from the state and federal governments, and use $5 million in city funds to pay for the remainder of the project.
"If we keep talking about it enough, I think it is finally going to get done," Watkins said.
City council creates its two-year goals after considering community survey results, comments at the community and business forums, other agencies' priorities and staff suggestions.
Other council goals included:
-- Actively pursuing the regionalization of emergency communications.
-- Working with the state Department of Transportation and federal agencies to get approval to add Interstate 182 on and off ramps at Road 68 to help with congestion.
-- Help the Downtown Pasco Development Authority with revitalization efforts such as the facade improvement program and considering a downtown street plan.
-- Gang suppression and prevention.
-- Design a Pasco police station.
-- Develop a plan for Oregon Avenue that will make it more marketable for commercial and industrial development.
-- Suggest creating an aquatics center at TRAC as a project to the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District.
-- Work with the Port of Pasco on waterfront development between Osprey Pointe and the cable bridge.
-- Explore ways to improve code enforcement.
w Consider neighborhood revitalization east of 10th Avenue and west of the railroad tracks.
-- Improve water use, such as switching homes onto the city's irrigation system for watering yards.
-- Consider expanding work of the city's historic preservation commission.