If I had to pick one word to define 2018, it would be “momentum”. Not only are we sustaining growth and prosperity throughout our city, we also are continuing to build upon that momentum.
Momentum takes smart goals, strategic focus, and a commitment to success. We are very lucky to have a City Council that provides sound policy to steer us towards these foundational elements and an amazing community that works in partnership with us to implement goals.
The ability to build on momentum also takes sound investment. One of our best examples is the recent completion of the Bob Olson Parkway. This is a tremendous transportation accomplishment for not only Kennewick but also the entire region – improving access and connectivity between Highways 240 and 395 that will significantly spur new economic development activity in the Southridge area.
The open land available for residential development in Southridge could support over 3,000 new homes. In 2017, the city completed its 10-year update to our 20-year comprehensive plan.
Kennewick’s population is expected to grow by 33,754 residents by 2037 and the Southridge Area is definitely an important area for accommodating our growing community. We are also working with the state and gathering community input on design options for the future Highway 395/Ridgeline Drive Interchange that will be an important transportation element in Southridge.
A good transportation network is the largest investment a city makes and is foundational to smart growth. We will also be completing a transportation study this year to prioritize that investment in the coming years.
Continuing to build upon success is the partnership with the Port of Kennewick to transform our historic waterfront. On Feb. 9, a ribbon cutting was held to celebrate Phase I with the opening of 2 new wineries.
We are now working on an expanded partnership with Benton County in using Rural Capital Funds and Columbia Basin College to grow the site for both private-sector development and a future Culinary Arts School.
Our partnership with the port involves another major effort as we work together on the planning and development of Vista Field into a regional hub. As with the other projects, significant work goes into the planning, design, and installation of infrastructure. Implementation of the Vista Field master plan will be one of our priority focus areas.
We certainly can’t sustain success without a very strong public safety component and we are extremely proud of the community support for these services. We met our commitment of hiring 15 new police officers from the Public Safety Sales Tax revenue to combat gang activity and initiated a police cadet training program that is providing an avenue to prepare qualified candidates when new entry-level openings become available. We also worked with the City Council on funding options to build Fire Station No. 6 in Southridge.
Recreation is important for a safe and vibrant community. New amenities are currently underway at Hansen Park, which at 25-acres is one of our largest parks. We are also working on a community engagement plan to rebuild the Playground of Dreams in Columbia Park.
Preparation and strategic focus has minimized the challenges we face. Our biggest challenge continues to be identifying funding for critical infrastructure projects and closely monitoring proposed state legislation that could negatively impact the city.
With over 300 services, it is tough to narrow it down to a few highlights. What we really want those we serve to know is that we strive every day to provide the highest level of service and engage all of our citizens in continuing to grow upon our momentum. Thank you!