Last year, I had the pleasure of working with our regional partners to help create a brand for our entire region. The end result was a need to help our community members, and those outside our community understand our region is ‘bigger, bolder, brighter, louder’ than we give ourselves credit for, and that each day deserves a fist pump in the air to show the greatness of our region. I fully embraced this new brand, because I believe that Richland truly is worthy of a fist pump each day.
Richland has several key projects on the horizon in 2015 that exemplify our commitment to making our city, and subsequently our region, a better place to call home. We have several projects in our Waterfront District and in south Richland that will benefit residents and visitors.
In 2014, the Richland City Council’s vision for establishing a sense of place along the Waterfront District began to take shape. This vision is being carried forward this year through master planning of the area and a redevelopment feasibility study to determine the appropriate investments that will guarantee long-term economic vitality. This project will take full advantage of the natural and business amenities in the area. Our citizens, corporate and residential, will benefit from the riverfront activities and the hustle and bustle from everyday shopping, dining, summer activities and family gatherings. Most communities are envious of our waterfront, and we plan to pay tribute to this wonderful opportunity.
The continued improvements to John Dam Plaza will add a new element to our downtown area with a new performance stage. As you may recall, we have been adding and modifying the park over the course of the last few years, with the addition of the bathroom facility and relocation of the park’s walking paths. The new performance stage that will be installed on the southwest corner of the park will add great benefit to our local events and may open up opportunities to bring in out-of-town performances. The plan is to start the overhaul after the Live @ 5 concert series this summer.
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The improvements continue with new developments taking place in the Queensgate shopping area. There are several national companies, and a few local businesses, scheduled to be announced soon. These types of businesses help put Richland on the radar for economic development and open opportunities for bringing more diverse businesses to the area.
Connecting south Richland to downtown is important to our overall transportation system, and our efforts to improve the drivability continues with our Duportail Street Reconstruction Project that is scheduled this summer. The improvements are necessary to create the vital connection that will be finalized once the city has the funds to complete the Duportail Bridge Project.
Although it is not traditionally considered when discussing branding, a key component to our overall marketability is our strong emergency response system. In 2015, we will open our newest fire station, which will enhance the emergency response time for our residents and businesses in south Richland. We will be adding six more firefighters to our staff and relocating others to fully staff the station. As a result of the new Criminal Justice Sales Tax, our Richland Police Department will increase several positions and help pay for one-time public safety projects.
Richland is on target for an amazing year with the new visioning for our Waterfront District and the new development across the city. Plus, the Wine Science Center will be opening in the Tri-Cities Research District, which will add a new layer of tourism and research to our area. We also anticipate the newly designated Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be a great asset.
I hope you start each day with a fist pump in the air and recognize all of the superior activities, projects and attractions we have in Richland.