The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District Board wants to move fast on identifying a potential project so voters in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick can decide as soon as possible if they are willing to pay for it.
The board, meeting Wednesday in Richland, gave a cursory look at 18 potential projects that were on a list in 2007 and decided to call for two public input meetings to be scheduled in late January.
The Reach Interpretative Center, a performing arts center and an aquatics center are heavyweight contenders to be a regional PFD project, but there might be strong support for expanding the Three Rivers Convention Center, or some other preference of the public, noted Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, board chairman.
Having public input meetings might introduce some new ideas or refine the existing list, said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young.
Young said the public input meetings also would give the newly formed regional public facilities district a way to introduce itself and explain its role to the public.
"A big part of what we're doing is to encourage the community to see that the three cities are working together," Young said. "I don't think the priorities have changed, at least not much, but we need to give the public a chance to have input," he added.
Member John Givens, who is on the Kennewick Public Facilities District board, said some members of the public might want to see certain projects that could not qualify as a regional project on their own be "bundled" with other projects that would create a larger project worthy of voter support.
While bundling could be attractive to a larger segment of the public, Gary Crutchfield, Pasco city manager, said the regional board should not lose sight of the bigger, more worthy projects, such as the aquatic center and the Reach Interpretative Center.
"The goal is to ask voters if they are willing to pay for a particular project. If they say no, then your job (as a board) is done," he said.
State law that authorized the forming of the regional public facilities district requires that the project to be selected cost at least $10 million dollars, including debt service, and that it meet criteria as a recreational center or public facility.