End of the line for Tri-City Raceway. West Richland has different plans

The city of West Richland has purchased the defunct Tri-City Raceway for a new police station.

The city council met in special session this week and agreed to offer a little more than $1.8 million for the 92-acre site.

On Tuesday the Port of Kennewick Commission agreed to the sale.

West Richland also will have some additional costs, including reimbursing port staff time up to $20,000, plus the port’s 2 percent public art policy.

So, the city’s total cost will be a little over $1.87 million, plus half of the closing costs.

West Richland will use its share of Benton County’s Rural Capital County Fund of about $1.3 million for the purchase, with the rest coming from its general fund.

October 16, 2018 - Police Chief Ben Majetich stands in the lobby at the current West Richland Police Department. The small lobby acts as a finger printing station, payment station and medical disposal dropoff. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

The property was last appraised for $1.75 million in 2016, but a new appraisal in September put the value at $3 million.

However, there were no comparable properties near the former raceway that could be used to determine the value, and the city of West Richland believed the actual value was less.

West Richland initially offered $1.25 million before the two agencies reached the agreed price this week.

Police station plan

The sale includes 18-acre-feet of water rights, with the port retaining additional water rights.

West Richland plans to use about five acres of the purchased land on Highway 224 near Keene Road for a voter-approved police station and additional land will be marketed for economic development.

Infrastructure will be added by the city for the police facility, which will serve as an anchor tenant on the property.

Attracting businesses to the area, zoned commercial and light industrial, should bring in sales taxes and create daytime jobs, said Mayor Brent Gerry.

The city had originally proposed building the police station on property off Bombing Range Road, but nearby residents told city officials a police station was not a good fit with their residential neighborhood.

Voters approved a $12.5 million bond request in April to replace cramped police offices with a new police station, and the city wants to begin collecting property taxes for the project in 2020.

With the land sale approved, the city now can take the next step, submitting the project to bond underwriters.

The city is hoping to take advantage of the current low interest rates to finance the police station.

Construction on the proposed 22,500-square-foot building could begin in fall 2020.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.