Proponents of a regional aquatics center for the Tri-Cities have six weeks to come up with another site for the $35 million facility.
Bob Tippett, president of the Pasco Public Facilities District, told the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District on Wednesday that his board was disappointed that the Franklin County commissioners withdrew an offer to have TRAC serve as the home of the new aquatics center project.
Tippett, in presenting a letter to the regional board, said the Pasco PFD believes the proposed aquatics facility remains the No. 1 choice of Tri-City residents.
"To that end, we urge the regional PFD board to reiterate its preference" that it be the regional board's choice to put to Tri-Cities voters next year, he said.
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Tippett also said the Pasco board was open to seeing the aquatic facility built anywhere in the Tri-Cities, not just Pasco.
"We intend to present a viable proposal no later than the November PFD meeting," Tippett said.
A six-week delay concerned some regional board members, who said it might be good to develop a "Plan B."
Kennewick Mayor Steve Young also asked how acquiring another site might drive up project costs or force a redesign of the project to stay with the budget.
"We need a drop-dead date," said Kennewick council member Don Britain, who agreed the board might need to consider something other than the aquatic facility project if they want to have a proposal for voters in 2013.
"We don't have any slop left," said Fred Raab, who represents the Richland PFD.
Raab said the regional board should instruct the performing arts center proposal proponents to prepare their presentation, just in case the aquatic facility stalls because no site has been selected.
The board supported Young's motion 7-0 to invite the Pasco PFD board to present alternative sites for the aquatics facility at the Nov. 7 meeting.
Richland council member Rebecca Francik protested rushing a decision on the aquatic facility project just to meet a timeline for the November 2013 ballot.
"Are we trying to get a project on the ballot rather than pursuing what the public says it wants?" she asked.
Britain countered, "This process has cost us five months (delay). If we keep delaying it may not be 2013 for the voters."
Randy Willis, representing the aquatics facility, called the loss of TRAC as a site "just a setback ... Don't be in a hurry now. This will be here 40 or50 years from now, and some of us have been at it for 12 1/2 years."
Regional board members John Givens and Sandra Kent were absent from the regional board meeting, which was held at Kennewick City Hall.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; email@example.com