Kennewick continues to be a success story, and this momentum will definitely continue throughout 2015. This is due to the council’s leadership in providing a sustainable budget and a strategic focus on the city’s five priority areas: community safety, economic development, infrastructure and growth, quality of life, and responsible government. Following are some of the most visible items for the coming year.
Voters approved a 0.3 percent criminal justice sales tax effective Jan. 1. The city has outlined a program to combat gang activity, which supports citizen feedback that this is a top priority, and for hiring new police officers.
Another major focus will be starting construction on
Fire Station No. 5 at the corner of West 10th Avenue and Kellogg Street. We have also started implementing a new phase to our proactive Fire Prevention Program. In addition to safety, expansion of this program will help us maintain our current rating with the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau and minimize the potential for an increase in insurance rates.
This priority area is all about supporting our existing businesses and creating new jobs.
Our investment in new roads and utilities at Southridge will continue to pay off with new development. This area continues to provide a daily testament to our tremendous growth and effective planning.
•Bridge to Bridge:
The Port of Kennewick and the city have been working cooperatively to master plan the waterfront area. In 2015, we will finish phase 1 of the Columbia Gardens partnership with completion of a nature trail around Duffy’s Pond, a pre-treatment facility to handle wine effluent to attract new wineries and new streetscaping.
•Three Rivers Entertainment District:
We are excited about the unique opportunity that exists with 112 acres available for development at Vista Field. We will be an active partner in supporting the Port of Kennewick’s master planning efforts to complement the entertainment district and provide a dynamic gathering place. The city also continues to pursue options to expand the convention center and make improvements to the Toyota Center and other facilities that will sustain this area and attract new visitors.
Investment in and maintenance of our basic infrastructure and transportation connections is a foundation of our economic development efforts. We have demonstrated that if you invest in the right infrastructure at the right location, success will follow. Priorities include completion of the Steptoe/Hildebrand extension, Edison Street widening from Canal Drive to Clearwater Avenue and pavement preservation projects.
Quality of life
Some of our work this year will be to prepare for future growth through our comprehensive planning efforts. Efforts may result in code amendments to implement the city council’s vision and will require working with the county so that the countywide planning policies are also in alignment. To facilitate new development, we are also working with community partners to streamline our permit processing.
During our recent budget process, more than 300 services were identified and prioritized. This effort allows the city to respond quickly to any unanticipated reduction in revenues or increase in costs that occur during the biennium. Lower priority services will continue to be evaluated to determine an alternative way to deliver these services, a reduction in service level or elimination of these services as we continue to evaluate vulnerabilities.
We also continue to look at ways to increase public outreach and will be expanding our social media presence. Our goals are to keep the public informed on our progress as well as help promote Kennewick and all that our city has to offer those who live here and those who have chosen to visit.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide a glimpse of some of things you will see this year. While our success does come with challenges, I am confident about our future and thankful to serve a dedicated community that truly works in partnership for progress.