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Richland City Council OKs master plan for Badger Mountain’s Trailhead Park

The Richland City Council approved a plan Tuesday evening that could lead to more parking at the Badger Mountain trailhead.

The city needed to come up with a 50-year master plan for Trailhead Park as part of an agreement with the Port of Kennewick, said Phil Pinard, planning and capital projects manager for Richland Parks and Public Facilities. The port is helping pay for additional parking spaces.

The master plan will include only minor additions, like a large picnic shelter in the developed portion of the park and some smaller picnic areas near the trails. The city had asked residents at a December open house, as well as in an online survey, whether they prefer keeping the park largely as it is, adding ball fields, putting in a community center or an “adventure park” with zip lines, chair lifts and alpine slides.

The results showed the public wanted to keep the park largely as it is now, Pinard said.

The city is working with the port on adding an additional 50 to 60 parking spaces at the park, he said. It is not yet certain whether the new spaces or the existing gravel spaces will be paved.

“It will provide some relief to the congestion of the on-street parking,” Pinard said.

The port is paying $100,000 toward the parking lot, and the city also hopes to get some money from Benton County, he said. Pinard was hopeful that the city, which maintains the 40-acre parcel, will not have to pay for the expansion.

Council members praised the staff’s work in developing the plan.

“I just so much believe that when we go out and talk to the people and find out what they want and how to do it, it makes projects go so much more smoothly, Councilman Terry Christensen said.

Also Tuesday, the council approved new contracts for the International Union of Operating Engineers and the International Association of Fire Fighters. Operating engineers will get 2.75 percent raises each year in 2015, 2016 and 2017.Human Resources Director Allison Jubb said the 28 employees are reducing the city’s long-term liability by opting out of retirement insurance.

The 54 rank and file firefighters will get 2.25 percent raises each of the three years, while battalion chiefs will get a 2.4 percent raise for 2015, 2 percent more at the start of 2016, an additional 0.8 percent in July 2016, followed by another 2 percent raise in 2017.

The contract will also call for captains in charge while a battalion chief is off to be ones who are interested in eventually filling the higher position. That is because some of the department’s five battalion chiefs are nearing retirement.

The change is intended to help the departments line of succession, Jubb said.