Did you miss the State of the Cities 4 Mayor Panel that happened today? All four mayor’s were at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon today. Each mayor weighed in about the what each city is doing for future planning. The mayors had some important and positive things to say. One highlight was the fact that they talked about how they meet monthly in collaboration to help our area grow. They do so with a vision toward the future of becoming a Three Rivers Region that continues to expand it’s legacy. We are no longer the Tri-Cities but instead we are now, “a quartet of cities.”
One example they gave of how they support one another was how the new AutoZone had originally spoken with Richland. However,Richland’s mayor suggested they speak with Pasco and how that may be a better suited location. This is the “team” building our leaders are working towards. As West Richland’s Mayor Brent Gerry stated, “we have to be creative in inviting small businesses to our community.”
Kennewick Mayor Steve Young stated the importance of small buisness to city growth by saying that, “Small businesses are the heartbeat of a city.” Pasco’s Mayor Matt Watkins commented about the success of the Pasco Food Truck Crawl. He commented how small businesses, “contribute to the diversity of a city.” Richland Mayor Robert Thompson said that, “giving people the opportunity to be successful is what cities are for.”
A question given to the panel was what are they doing to promote economic development. Pasco’s mayor said they are bringing on a new economic developer. Pasco is looking at long term plans for the Broadmoor area around road 100. He referenced that they will work on it one piecemeal at a time like Columbia Point. This starts with working on the essential infrastructures to have in place for the expansion. He also brought up the Lewis Street overpass.
Infrastructure was a common theme among the mayors. Richland’s Mayor Thompson said they try to, “get out of the way and let people be successful.” West Richland’s Mayor Gerry spoke of a new winery facility that can produce 40,000 cases of wine annually. This same area has availability to potentially add more and run up to 100,000 cases annually in the future. He also spoke about the Belmont Business District, the new middle school that will open this year, as well as the next high school that will be coming. Kennewick’s Mayor Young said that safety and security for small businesses needs to come first. They are also making permits easier with an over the counter approach for businesses that has been very successful. This has been so successful in fact that they need to hire more employees to help.
When asked what keeps them up at night, Richland’s mayor brought up “magical thinking.” He spoke of this earlier as well as an issue that is hindering progress because people do not understand what it takes to make growth happen. “There are things you have to do,” and “unicorns don’t save you.” “Real planning” and work that has to be done.
West Richland’s mayor commented that he wants to, “be careful in growing the city in a manageable way.” He wants to do this ,”while still protecting the lifestyle that the people moved there for.” Kennewick’s mayor stated that the next 20 years will be unprecedented in change. He said he struggles with how unwilling the public is to do something about it because of the costs. Everyone needs to commit to it. It is expensive, but necessary. Pasco’s mayor commented on how few people were in the room today. More people need to be involved. “Things are always more complex then people think it is.” However, things happen when “people are determined.”
They also commented that there were concerns that we would get too big. That they need money for the necessary projects – but that those projects aren’t necessarily “sexy” projects that are popular with the people. West Richland brought up how they rely on water wells for a lot of their water. Funding for infrastructure has to be found too. Luckily they have been awarded a surface transportation grant. They were also awarded a transportation alternative grant.
Kennewick’s mayor spoke of the money they had set aside for resurfacing roads. That money now has to be used to patch the holes from this last hard winter. Also, the sewer system needs work due to the deterioration from the sewer gases. He stated, “it is a constant balancing act.” Pasco’s mayor spoke of getting infrastructure for increasing water capacity. Also, adding more traffic signal upgrades is in the works. He jokingly talked about bringing Nordstroms, Trader Joe’s, Six Flags, Ikea, and a second Costco to Pasco. He then laughed and asked if there were other requests for that list. He said that Spokane’s Trader Joe’s FaceBook page got up to 11,000 likes and then they got one (Trader Joe’s) and that we only had around 7,646 so far. So hop on FaceBook, like the page, and pass the word around so we can bring them here: https://www.facebook.com/traderjoestricities/
Finally, Kennewick’s mayor stated, “there comes a point where success will only come through partnership.” The state of the cities was a great luncheon to be able to hear from all four mayors. I highly recommend you attend if they have onea gain. It was good to hear how the four cities are working together as a united partnership to help the entire area move forward. Their focus is moving toward a regional center in a way that will benefit all, while preserving the integrity that so many love. As a few of the mayors said, we are in the golden age of the Tri-Cities and the 3 Rivers Community, and we all need to work together.
1920 N. Pittsburgh St., Suite A
Kennewick, WA 99336
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