Finally, a Tri-City partnership with the potential to complete major public projects is within our community's grasp.
That development is epic, and not just because it's been four years in the making.
A proposal to create a Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District is headed to city councils in Richland, Pasco and Kennewick for final approval over the next few weeks.
With representatives from all three councils involved in the planning process, chances are this new variety of public agency will get the green light before fall.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
If it does, Tri-City voters could get a chance as early as next year to vote on a ballot measure to increase local sales taxes to build a regional aquatics center.
Matt Watkins, mayor of Pasco and chairman of the Regional Facilities Oversight Committee, recently met with the Kennewick City Council to outline the details. The expectation is that all three cities will vote on the concept by September.
The oversight committee -- charged with finding a way for the three cities to cooperate on construction of an aquatic park, performing arts center and other large-scale projects -- has been working on the plan for nearly four years.
With frustrations mounting over the slow pace of progress, the entire exercise looked like it might implode as recently as this winter.
What a difference a few months can make.
In February, it wasn't clear the three cities would end up on the same page. Questions persisted about which kind of agency -- regional PFD, metropolitan park district or other -- offered the best chance for completing major projects.
It also was uncertain the Legislature would approve the necessary changes in state law to permit the creation of a regional PFD this year, adding another layer of complexity.
The committee has put all that in the rear-view mirror.
Congratulations to everyone who worked through the questions and issues to find a way the community can combine its resources to complete regional projects.
The proposal before the three city councils would create the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District. Each city would be represented by two council members and one representative of each city's public facilities district.
The nine-member board would be charged with bringing proposals for regional facilities to Tri-City voters. A majority of representatives from each of the three cities would have to approve any plan before it's placed on the ballot.
Voters from all three cities would form a single pool for the election. Nothing happens without voter approval, but a proposal could be rejected in one city and still pass with enough votes in the other two cities.
It may not be a perfect plan, but it's the closest the Tri-Cities has come to creating a process for completing regional projects.
The proposed regional PFD represents a quantum leap forward in the ability of the three cities to cooperate. The city councils ought to expedite approval.