Paint, cleanup projects and bridge lights were on the minds of West Richland City Council members during Tuesday's workshop meeting.
After hearing a recap of last year's progress on the Yakima River gateway and Van Giesen Street redevelopment project, council members discussed what the next step should be.
"A great place to start would be the Yakima (bridge) gateway," said Jason Robertson, president of Olympia-based J. Robertson and Co., consultants on the project. "Improving that stretch of Van Giesen Street as you come into the city along the river appeals to a lot of people. They want to make the entrance into town look better."
He suggested improving the pie-shaped area that stretches from the Yakima River bridge to 39th Street, north to the golf course, and along the Yakima River.
Robertson also suggested using the area as a test to develop design guidelines for the rest of the Van Giesen corridor.
The city has about $200,000 in its "improvement war chest," but if the council waits a few months, perhaps until fall, matching grant money could be available, he said.
Several council members, including Rich Buel, would like to see something concrete, something visual, done sooner.
"We've been talking about improving Van Giesen and the gateway area for years now. I would, and the people I talk to would, like to see something happening," Buel said. "Sure we put in underground utilities, but people don't see sewer and water lines."
Councilman Tony Benegas agreed, saying he didn't want to see this project lose steam.
"We need to keep the big picture in mind, but decide what we can do in the short term," he said.
Robertson suggested a "paint party," using donated paint and sweat equity from volunteers, along with city code enforcement initiatives, as an inexpensive, yet very visual, improvement along the street.
"This way the city could assist property owners who want to, but don't have the money, to make improvements to their buildings," Robertson said.
Council members also discussed using what money they already have to put street lights on the bridge. Roscoe Slade, public works director for the city, pointed out that West Richland only has enough money for six lights.
"That would do half the bridge, the half we own. The other half is Richland's," Slade said.
"Perhaps Richland would be willing to pay for lights on their half. I'll look into that," said Mayor Donna Noski.
Ruth Swain, economic development director for the city, and Noski also reported on their recent trip to Healdsburg, Calif., a city close to the size of West Richland. Beginning almost a decade ago, Healdsburg began a plan very similar to the vision for West Richland.
"All their improvements were centered around the community. They made things better for the citizens who live there first and then focused on bringing in tourism," Noski said.
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