Editorials

Renewed focus downtown welcome move for Pasco

The city of Pasco is going to get more involved in the city of Pasco.

Or more involved in the downtown business district, to be precise.

It's about time.

While the Pasco Downtown Development Association has done some good things, redevelopment efforts require consistent leadership and planning.

The city has dabbled in the district's affairs before, but ties with the PDDA were severed after the city attached some conditions to $30,000 it was giving the volunteer group each year.

When the PDDA couldn't meet those realistic expectations, the city pulled its financial support of the group's efforts.

Fits and starts have plagued the downtown area in recent years. We've heard lots of talk and good ideas, but seen little action.

We know the volunteer group and downtown business owners mean well, but the lack of a cohesive vision with measureable milestones isn't helping the district improve its status.

Don't get us wrong -- downtown Pasco definitely has some things going for it, thanks to the PDDA. The Farmers Market, the Pasco Specialty Kitchen and the Fiery Foods Festival are great draws.

But none of those are recent developments. What has happened lately?

A facade improvement project approved by the city in 2004 has stalled, with only two businesses receiving a facelift after six years because the group hadn't secured funds for further improvements.

Columbia Basin College since has helped send federal grant money to the project, and organizers hope to get it back on track soon. It's a positive development, but more needs to be done.

The enthusiasm for downtown redevelopment has ebbed and flowed for years, with various groups and a variety of leaders taking turns.

The city council rightfully is frustrated with too much talk and too little action.

The time is here to make some changes and create a more viable and vital retail district. As the Pasco Farmers Market proved, people of all walks of life are willing to venture downtown. That hurdle already has been cleared.

But downtown businesses need to find ways to keep Farmers Market fans around for other shopping and to entice them back on days the market is closed.

Nothing is trendier than buying local food. It's a great hook, but more bait is needed.

The city can't do it alone. It will take a village and a lot of cooperation to raise downtown Pasco back to destination status. It also will require cooperation and hard work.

We're confident that the city is the right entity to lead downtown revitalization. We've seen Mid-Columbia port districts rehabilitate other locations that seemed even more tired and unloved than downtown Pasco.

Check out Clover Island or Vintners Village if you doubt it.

The dispute over the city's decision to end financial support to the PDDA may be fueling some lingering resentment.

But at a certain point, people and governments have to let bygones be bygones and move forward with a new attitude for the greater good.

With a cooperative effort, now can be the time for downtown Pasco to shine again.

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