Editorials

Weed patch doesn't make a pretty welcome mat

We're glad to see that the Richland City Council is taking steps to deal with the former site of the city's community center.

Visitors to Richland are greeted by what now is a crater on George Washington Way peppered by debris and a crop of weeds where the community center once stood. A series of developers failed to come through with their plans for the property, and the city bought it back in September in a foreclosure sale.

Drive a little farther downG-Way and you'll see another stalled development, the Waterford Place condominium project, a project that got a start and failed to deliver anything more than an overbuilt clubhouse that looks sorely out of place surrounded by vacant land. When the condominium project faced its demise in a tough climate for financing, a plan was discussed to build apartments instead, but neither materialized. Most recently, a hotel was proposed at the site but appears stalled for lack of financing as well.

Neither the hole in the ground or the lonely clubhouse are the kind of picture that makes visitors see prosperity and a thriving economy in Richland, even though that's largely the case.

And while the owners of the Waterford Place land look for money and a solution, the city is looking for a buyer for its recently recovered property at the old community center site.

Originally, the city wanted a developer who could create a mix of retail, offices and housing with an urban feel at the location. But it appears after several years of failed attempts to deliver that vision, the city is looking for other proposals as well.

One suggestion was to move the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology to the site, potentially adding value to the location. It probably would be a temporary home until the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center is built.

For now, we're happy to see the community center property in the city's hands. At least the city has the resources to clean it up and make a more presentable first impression for visitors and a more appealing landmark than a fenced and abandoned hole in the ground for residents.

The lot is at a great location and could be something special for the city if the right development partner can be found.

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