West Richland council to mull Sept. 2 naming park 'Yellowstone Trail'

Before Interstate 90 became functional in 1956, cross-country motorists traversing the northern U.S. likely found themselves on the Yellowstone Trail -- a roughly 3,700-mile transcontinental highway conceived in 1912 that stretched from Plymouth, Mass., to Seattle.

The Yellowstone Trail was largely a straight shot, save for an arching stretch through Minnesota and a peculiar loop in Eastern Washington, where the road split at Spokane and traveled north to Wenatchee or south through the Tri-Cities, including West Richland, before reconnecting in Cle Elum.

The story of the Yellowstone Trail is often overshadowed by that of the better-known Lincoln Highway, the first trancontinental highway, but a proposed resolution to be considered Sept. 2 by the West Richland City Council is aimed at bringing the memory of the Yellowstone Trail's back to the forefront of residents' minds since it did pass through the city.

The council will consider naming a park on Austin Drive "Yellowstone Trail Park" after holding a public hearing during its 7 p.m. meeting. The park is across the street from Flat Top Park.

"I think it's an unique opportunity to connect the local history with local citizens," said Alison Greene, West Richland's associate planner.

The city acquired the near-acre of land on Austin Drive in February 2013 through its Bombing Range Road storm water outfall elimination project. The storm water project, which called for the acquisition of two parcels of land, was largely paid for with a $479,000 state Department of Ecology storm water grant.

Five underground drainage tanks were installed on the parcels, which eliminated storm water runoff into a Columbia Irrigation District canal.

"It's a storm-drainage facility, but because it ended up with grass and trees, it looks like a park," West Richland Public Works Director Roscoe Slade said.

Regardless of Tuesday's vote on the name, volunteers are ready to beautify the property.

Former Mayor Donna Noski has arranged for Home Depot to donate materials and labor, local Boy Scout Mason Powers will build signage for his Eagle Scout project and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members will spend their day of service Sept. 13 building planters and readying a planned community garden.

"It's kind of cool how it's coming together," Slade said

The garden should be open for planting during the spring 2015 growing season. Slade said city officials are working on use and fee policies for residents interested in using the planters. No playground equipment is planned for the park, but Slade said picnic tables and an arbor are possible. Parking and access points also should be added.

-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; dfoster@tricityherald.com