The Pasco City Council gave its approval to a plan to help turn around the downtown area at its Monday meeting.
The five-year Downtown Pasco Development Authority work plan calls for improving core retail businesses by promoting the area better in the first three years, along with programs like new building facades.
The latter part of the plan deals with landing "mixed use" development, with retail and restaurants on the first floor of buildings and apartments on the upper floors.
Council approved the plan by a 4-1 vote. Councilman Mike Garrison ran the meeting because Mayor Matt Watkins and Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik were absent.
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Councilman Saul Martinez sees the plan making a big difference for downtown, bringing a safe family atmosphere.
"I envision seeing people eating outside the restaurants," he told the Herald. "This is going to be an attraction for the whole Tri-Cities and outside the Tri-Cities."
Councilman Tom Larsen, the only member to vote against the plan, expressed a couple of problems. They involve the inclusion of the Lewis Street Overpass in the plan, as well as the city considering a one-way couplet from Lewis and Clark streets, he said.
Larsen has opposed the overpass, saying it should instead be built north of downtown on Court Street. He challenges claims from city officials that it is deteriorating.
"As far as I can tell, the underpass is in good shape," he said. "In fact, we just got through repaving it."
Business owners along one-way streets in downtown Spokane do not like the configuration, he said.
"They weren't successful in having the kind of city they wanted to have there," he said.
The downtown plan was put together by E.D. Hovee & Company LLC of Vancouver, Wash., which interviewed 15 people with interest in downtown Pasco. It was previously approved by the downtown authority's board.
Council approved spending $35,000 on the strategic plan in January. The money also went toward improving the downtown authority's website and rebranding the farmers market and specialty kitchen.
- The council approved paying for a feasibility study for a new interchange off Interstate 182 between the Road 68 and Highway 395 south exits. The city is playing for $51,176 of the study's $327,907 cost, with federal money picking up the remainder.
- The council approved a new fire inspection safety program. Officials said the city hasn't had a formal program since 1987, and they hope the program will help them when the city is rated by the state Survey and Ratings Bureau in 2015 or 2016.
- The council approved improvements for drainage at the pedestrian overpass at Court Street and Highway 395. The contract will pay C&E Trenching LLC of Pasco $25,096.
- The council named Vijay Patel, owner of the Holiday Inn Express near TRAC, to the Regional Hotel/Motel Commission.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom