More terraced parking could come to the foot of the heavily used Badger Mountain preserve as early as next year.
The Port of Kennewick and city of Richland are working on plans to expand parking for the popular hiking trails meandering across the Benton County-owned preserve.
Joe Schiessl, Richland's parks and public facilities director, told port commissioners Tuesday that there are two tiers of gravel parking at the foot of the mountain at Badger Mountain Trailhead Park. Many hikers park along the street near the park.
Tentatively, the city could develop additional tiers of parking up to trailhead park, Schiessl said. Gravel and paving would be considered.
The goal is to resolve some of the conflicts between park users and residents who have lived near Badger Mountain since before the trail and park were developed, Schiessl said.
Estimates put the number of annual visitors to Badger Mountain at about 200,000.
Eventually, Queensgate Drive will be extended to Keene Road, Schiessl said. At that time, the city no longer will allow street parking.
In the meantime, Richland would like to start to wean people off street parking, Schiessl said. If the parking lot is expanded, then the city would restrict street parking to the park side of the street only.
The city wants to develop a master plan for the whole park to make sure any parking solution fits, Schiessl said.
Port officials pledged $10,000 Tuesday to help with planning for the park. Port residents are among those who use Badger Mountain, said Executive Director Tim Arntzen.
The Richland City Council also will be asked to give its support to master planning for Trailhead Park.
Schiessl hopes to finish master planning by the end of the year and get any needed permits by late winter, he said. Construction then could begin in the spring.
Trailhead Park offers a short-term project while city and port officials continue to look for a longer-term economic development project within the port's boundaries in Richland, he said.
The city likely also will see if the county will partner in the project, Schiessl said. The city owns Trailhead Park and the stairs that lead up to the trails and the county owns the reserve from the stairs to the top of Badger Mountain.
Badger Mountain parking is among the possibilities on the port's draft work plan for the next two years, Arntzen said. But there is a high level of competition among the port's possible projects, and the port already has contractually committed to some of them.
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org