John Dam Plaza could get a major remodel if the Richland City Council approves a plan proposed by parks department officials.
This intriguing vision for one of the most venerable of the community's public places deserves a closer look.
The showpiece of the plan is a fountain, which would give folks a seating area as well as a place to keep cool on hot days. Waterfalls would be designed so kids could play in them.
Space would be available for food carts, a burgeoning trend in many cities. Vendors would also have spots to sell arts and crafts.
Richland may have been ahead of the curve when it allowed the controversial fish and chips trailer to make its home at John Dam Plaza.
The large central fountain isn't the only water feature in the proposal. A second fountain would be built at the entrance of the plaza.
A grassy amphitheater and covered stage would provide a nice venue for concerts and the Live@Five series, rather than the temporary arrangement now used during the summer.
The old complaint that there is nothing to do and nowhere to go in the Tri-Cities no longer rings true, especially during the summer months. Farmers markets are open nearly every day of the week, many of our wineries have expanded to offer evening hours and entertainment, and the opportunities for free entertainment abound, from outdoor movies to concerts.
But that doesn't mean we ought to stop working to make it even better.
Improving the quality of life is key to keeping workers here and happy. Many folks who've relocated to the Tri-Cities have lived in larger cities, where public spaces and entertainment options are plentiful.
Enhancing such opportunities makes the Tri-Cities an easier sell for economic development officials, and it gives us all even more to take pride in when showing off our home turf to visitors.
The plan for John Dam Plaza paints a pretty picture, but of course it comes at a cost. It's not a small amount, either. It would take about $1.8 million to bring the vision to life.
Government at every level needs to watch spending and make prudent choices during these challenging economic times.
But if the city council can find a way to pay for improvements to John Dam Plaza without cutting essential service, then this project would be a smart investment.