The Richland City Council on Tuesday night heard from several residents who are concerned about a storm water infiltration pond planned in their neighborhood.
The one-acre pond is designed to sit on the west lawn area of the city's water treatment plant off Saint Street.
Residents said they're worried about health and safety risks, from toxins affecting their nearby wells to issues related to standing water, and they also don't want to see a loss of recreation space. The greenbelt where the pond is planned is used by many in the neighborhood.
Several residents also said the city has downplayed the project and they weren't given sufficient notice about the plans.
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"This is a one-full-acre sludge pond in a north Richland neighborhood," said resident Darrell Fisher. He told the council that the infiltration project is "technically flawed, the location is wrong and inappropriate and it takes away a peaceful public park lawn area that our children enjoy."
Megan Meyer, a teen who lives with her family in the area, said her mother loves to grow vegetables. "I'm worried that if we have all those chemicals it could potentially harm our plants" and make the family ill, she said.
The residents spoke for about a half-hour during the time set aside for public comment. Earlier in the evening, 40 to 50 concerned residents attended a meeting with city public works staff about the infiltration facility.
The city has about $200,000 from the state Department of Ecology for the pond. Pete Rogalsky, Richland's public works director, said infiltration facilities are common, with many around the city.
"They're all over the place and they aren't causing any harm," he said, adding that they have environmental benefits.
The Saint Street infiltration facility is planned to take storm runoff from about 220 surrounding acres, with the runoff naturally filtering into the ground instead of flowing right to the river.
Rogalsky said the pond area would remain a grassy lawn for most of the year, filling with water for a period after storms.
The council didn't take any action on the project Tuesday and is scheduled later this month to consider a construction contract for the pond project.
Residents said they hope the council reconsiders the plan.
w The council heard a brief presentation on the Richland Planning Commission's activities and accomplishments in 2013. Development activity in the city that year was fairly consistent with 2012 levels, with an increase in commercial construction offsetting a slight decrease in residential construction, according to the annual report document.
A total of $146 million in construction projects were permitted in 2013, compared with $134 million the year before.
Leaders of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Richland Public Facilities District, which is opening the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center in July, also presented updates on their activities.
w Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald