The Kennewick City Council and the Port of Kennewick have publicly declared they want to be partners in doing a major makeover on the city's riverfront district.
A joint meeting of the council and port commissioners Tuesday night ended with unanimity for drafting a joint resolution to work together on the Bridge-to-Bridge/River to Rail plans for turning Columbia Drive properties into premier real estate for tourism, business development, recreation and residential use.
The two agencies also agreed the mutual spirit of cooperation should extend to how development occurs for the Vista Field Airport and the adjacent entertainment district that includes the Three Rivers Convention Center and Toyota Center/Arena facilities.
"This has been a very good meeting," said Steve Young, Kennewick's mayor at the end of the 2 1/2-hour session held in a meeting room at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
Even before officials got down to business, Chep Gauntt, who lives on Oak Street in Kennewick, said the city and port should work together to make the most of Kennewick's riverfront land.
"Kennewick has been robbed of its river frontage potential," said Gauntt, who noted that he has lived in Kennewick for 38 years.
"I'd like to see the assistance of the city to help the port," Gauntt said.
By evening's end, the council and port were echoing that call.
Commissioner Skip Novakovich said the port and council could begin by sending representatives to a waterfront conference in Baltimore in November. He said they also should formalize their partnership through a joint resolution.
"That's what's best for the city," agreed Young in reply.
Bob Hammond, city manager, said the joint resolution would help solidify the will of the city and port and lead to a common vision and plan for developing the Bridge-to-Bridge/River-to-Rail plan.
Earlier in the meeting, consultant Tom Beckwith discussed the overall plans for the riverfront area, noting that the port's accomplishments at Clover Island and vision for Duffy's Pond are part of a comprehensive plan. He described the makeover as including mixed-use zoning, shoreline enhancements and development of open land to create a park-like district with an urban feel.
Novakovich noted that prior studies done over the past 18 years on the Columbia Drive area generated similar ideas. He suggested taking the best from all studies.
"We can accomplish more together than either one of use could do independently," said Councilman John Hubbard.
The council and port commissioners agreed that the joint resolution would be the first step in working together on the Columbia Drive projects as outlined by Beckwith, and on anything else of mutual interest, including improvements for Vista Field Airport.
- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org