The secret is out about West Richland.
What was once a quiet bedroom community of less than 5,000 people is now a vibrant city of more than 13,000. Nerdwallet.com lists West Richland as the second best city in Washington to raise a family and the eighth best for young jobseekers. Movoto.com shows West Richland as the sixth safest place to live in the Evergreen State. We are being recognized for the unparalleled quality of life that we have in West Richland, and it won’t be long before there will be even more to enjoy.
In the next few months, construction will begin on the Yakima River Gateway Project, which will enhance and beautify our eastern entrance to town. Imagine arriving in West Richland to find ADA-accessible nonmotorized boat launches, places to fish, benches, interpretive exhibits, plenty of parking, and miles of walking trails along the Yakima River. Our river shore is a popular place in the summer already, but when finished, we believe the Gateway Project will provide the kind of amenities that will draw people of all ages to West Richland.
The city is working with the Port of Kennewick to establish a cluster of wine-related businesses on 92 acres of land that used to be home to the Tri-City Raceway. We envision a project where large-scale wineries will anchor a development that includes wine-related manufacturing companies and other businesses that will not only provide jobs, but also will draw tourists and visitors to town. In addition, a recently awarded $2.4 million Public Works Trust Fund loan will pay for the creation of a new, state-of-the-art winery waste effluent facility that will attract new wineries to the area while also servicing existing winery operators who would previously have had to find independent ways to treat their process water.
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Construction is scheduled to begin on West Richland’s newest middle school this year. Approximately 800 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will attend this new school, which is scheduled to open its doors in 2017. Not far from the school will be West Richland’s new Public Works operations facility, where construction is set to begin in a few months. Where the city’s sewer, storm water, streets, engineering, water and parks personnel and equipment are currently scattered in several facilities throughout the community, this $4.7 million complex will provide a single location for all of our public works employees. Having a one-stop shop for public works will provide community members with improved customer service and shortened response time in the event of an emergency.
As we look even further into the future, we are beginning the work of re-crafting our city’s Comprehensive Plan. This document is the “road map” for what West Richland will look like in 10, 15 or even 20 years. We are planning to hold a number of public meetings and events intended to capture the ideas that our residents, business owners and community leaders have for West Richland. From parks and business districts to recreational opportunities and housing developments, the Comprehensive Plan is an all-encompassing document that we will use to set goals and priorities for the future.
As mayor, I am very excited for our future, but I am also very proud of our community as it exists today. Events like Hogs and Dogs, the Time of Remembrance, the Harvest Festival and the Veteran’s Day Parade draw thousands of people to town every year. The Bombing Range Sports Complex, Flat Top Park and our neighborhood parks are always busy with sports teams playing in tournaments, youngsters playing on tire swings, or musicians playing guitars. We have excellent community partners like the West Richland Chamber of Commerce, Benton REA and the Port of Kennewick.
It’s true that West Richland is the smallest of the Tri-Cities, but as they say, the best gifts come in small packages. I encourage you to come to West Richland and see for yourself.