Draft plan for Pasco waterfront updated

Plans for the Pasco waterfront east of the cable bridge include a new marina park, an expanded boat launch and a mix of land uses.

The Pasco Planning Commission has received an update on a draft plan for the 100 acres northeast of the cable bridge, which includes the marine terminal and boat launch area.

The city and Port of Pasco hired Makers Architecture and Urban Design to create a vision for the waterfront neighborhood.

It includes commercial use on the south portion of the marine terminal site, with open space south of Washington Street and a business park along Ainsworth Avenue.

Commercial areas would allow mixed uses, such as having commercial space on a ground floor and residential or office space on a building's second floor, said Wesley Kirkman, a planner with Makers.

Within the commercial area, central business district zoning in the middle of the marine terminal site would allow a winery or hotel, Kirkman told the planning commission Thursday.

There also could be restaurants or brew pubs along the waterfront of the marine terminal, he said.

On the east side of the railroad tracks, the plan would include improving Washington Street to a four-lane street with median, two parking lanes and a wide sidewalk, said Gerald Hansmire, a partner with Makers.

About one-fourth of the 60-acre marine terminal area was contaminated where petroleum products were unloaded. The ground water is being cleaned up to state standards.

It probably will meet light residential or commercial standards, but not the higher residential standards, Hansmire said. That's why earlier plans for residential zoning west of the railroad tracks were discarded.

The plan also recommends an R-3 zone for the residential area north of the boat basin to allow a little denser development but maintain the single-family home atmosphere, Hansmire said.

Ed Welch, who owns two homes in the residential area, said residents are concerned about what will happen. They see a lot of development planned right in their midst.

"There's a lot of people down there who still want to hold onto what they have," he said.

Rick White, Pasco community and economic development director, said the city has no intention of buying residential properties, although owners could choose to sell to developers.

The plan also is a chance to capitalize on about a half-mile of underused waterfront, Hansmire said.

The proposal also includes a new marina park and enhanced boat launch area, with viewpoints and possible gardens along the marine terminal property shoreline.

And the city could try to get permission for the 22-mile Sacajawea Heritage Trail, which loops through Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, to go under the railroad bridge, Hansmire said.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway rejected the idea before, so the trail goes north and crosses at Ainsworth Avenue instead of going straight along the river's edge.

But Hansmire said people tend to walk across the tracks at Washington Street, which isn't safe.

Carl Holder, who owns property in the residential area, urged the city to try to get permission for the trail to go under the railroad bridge.

The city also should address the cable bridge in the plan and add a right turn from the bridge's northbound lane to Ainsworth Avenue, he said.

The planning commission is to hold a formal hearing on the plan once it is final. And the city council and the port commission will vote on the plan, which should be completed in August.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com