This year will bring more of the same — and that is a good thing. Continued focus will be on the city’s five priority areas: Community Safety, Economic Development, Infrastructure & Growth, Quality of Life and Responsible Government.
We will continue implementation of the voter-approved criminal justice sales tax through strategic staffing and hiring of additional officers, city attorney and support staff. Last year, we expanded our proactive Fire Prevention Program and will be evaluating ways to enhance this service. In addition to life safety, this helps us maintain our current rating with the Washington Survey & Rating Bureau and minimize potential insurance rate increases. Our fifth fire station on the corner of Kellogg Street and 10th Avenue will be opening this fall, and we are in the planning stages to identify land and staffing needs for a future station to serve our growing community. Another item this year will be to provide a recommendation on a bi-county consolidated dispatch system that each of the cities and both counties have been evaluating.
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Kennewick remains an economic bright spot in Washington because of our focus on supporting existing businesses and job creation. We are already working with our partners to promote legislation for a new Local Revitalization Project (LRF) in the Three Rivers Entertainment District. We have a proven model of accelerating development with LRF funding in Southridge and seek the opportunity to replicate this success. We will also continue to pursue options to expand the convention center, make Toyota Center improvements and support the building of a Broadway theater that will attract new events, increase economic development opportunities and complement community aspirations for the performing arts.
Other goals include completion of phase one of the wine village at Columbia Gardens and to provide bridge-to-bridge master plan implementation recommendations to the council that will ensure future riverfront development fits the community’s vision.
Infrastructure & Growth
The completion of the Steptoe/Hildebrand extension has been a top priority, and we will see the final phase, completion of the loop between Highway 240 and 395, coming to fruition. This connectivity is a significant transportation enhancement to the entire region.
The city is working in partnership with the Washington state Department of Ecology on the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project testing. This unique project involves withdrawing water from the Columbia River during winter and spring and storing it in a deep basalt aquifer in the Southridge area. The water is later used to supplement peak demands and meet future needs.
Other major infrastructure items include providing a recommendation for a sustainable pavement preservation funding program; Ridgeline/395 interchange planning; and conducting a water rate study in preparation for our 2017/2018 biennial budget.
Quality of Life
We recently launched an expedited permitting process for our builders and developers. We will be seeking ways to expand this popular option and continuing customer outreach to maintain focus on providing flexibility and enhancing services.
Planning for the future includes working on the 10-year comprehensive plan update due in 2017 that also complements the future Urban Growth Area expansion south of Interstate 82 and would provide prime industrial development opportunities. We will also continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers on the conveyance of 60 acres of land in Columbia Park that would offer greater flexibility in supporting park maintenance and recreation goals.
In 2015, we significantly expanded our social media presence, and in 2016, we will be launching a new and improved web page. This will enhance citizen interaction and the ease of access to information on the more than 300 services the city provides.
Kennewick continues to be a success story, and this momentum will definitely continue throughout 2016. This is due to our strong partnerships and the council’s leadership in providing a sustainable budget and a strategic focus.