Area now zoned for parks. The Riverside Inn is north of it. Notice the parking lot on the south end that residents regularly use to access the trail.

Correction 10/4: The Shilo Inn is now known as the Riverside Inn.

Hold on to your hats folks while I connect the dots for you on the latest switcheroo by the City of Richland. The residents of Richland will lose a riverfront park under a zoning proposal on the Oct. 5 agenda. (map above)

The proposal changes park zoning to waterfront zoning which allows commercial and residential development in the area where American Cruise Line wants a new dock and Fortify Holdings is drooling over the parkland-zoned land next to the Riverside Inn.

Fortify Holdings, a Portland company, plans to convert the Inn and three other old hotels in North Richland into apartments. To accommodate Fortify, the city recently reduced the 500 sq. ft. minimum apartment size for areas of the downtown.

At the Sept. 28 council workshop Ziad Elsahili, President of Fortify Holdings,
pitched his plan to redevelop the Riverside Inn. He emphasized that it just didn’t make any economic sense without owning the land under it that now belongs to the city.

Elsahili offered to provide an appraiser with the city’s approval. I desperately want to put laughing emojis here. Oh, why hold back😂🤣😂

Soon, I will write a whole article called “How developer/speculators keep ripping off the Richland taxpayers” but I will try to stick to the issue at hand now.

Elsahili wants to buy the land next to the Riverside as well. That’s the land that is now zoned for a park or public facilities. He has some lovely plan for a wine garden.

Getting back to the cruise ship saga, let me refresh your memory.

Last December, the city gave priority docking privileges to American Cruise Lines (ACL) for the use of the Lee Street dock for 15 years at $45,000 a year even as a competing cruise line objected. At that time the Parks and Public Facilities Director Joe Schiessl declared that it was all okay because ACL was going to build its own dock at Columbia Point in two or three years.

No provision in the ACL contract mentioned this new dock. Crunching the numbers, you wonder why in the world would ACL build a dock? The Lee Street one cost almost a million dollars around 15 years ago and the city is maintaining the dock for ACL.

Surprise, surprise, at the March 23 city council meeting, residents learned that taxpayer would be picking up the tab. Either the city or the Army Corps of Engineers would build the dock.

Long story short, the city wants to satisfy developers and more parkland just doesn’t do that. You can read about the rezoning plan for yourself on pages 166 to 170 of the packet. Of course, the back story is not included.

A hearing on the switcheroo will be held. The hearing examiner has already opined that this is a great idea. The proposal listed on the Consent Calendar will then be considered without discussion or a separate vote. One member can move to have the proposal removed from the consent calendar for discussion. We’ll see how that goes.

The rules have changed for public comment. Go to the top of the agenda for details. You must call in to comment, no more written comments. The written comments ended when the linemen’s supporters submitted so many written comments that the city clerk became breathless reading them.

Apparently, the thought is that if a commenter must hang on to the line until their time to speak and becomes reduced to screaming to a spouse, “How do you make this thing work?” as the Observer once did when she was already connected, maybe residents just won’t bother. Problem solved.

Page numbers below match the page numbers in the packet.

1.The meeting won’t start until about 6:30 p.m. as the council chose to have a secret, executive session at the beginning of the meeting to discuss potential litigation.

2. After the secret meeting Mayor Ryan Lukson will read a proclamation of appreciation to Jana Kay Lunstad who served over 10 years as a Richland Public Library Board Trustee. Page. 4-5

3. New Hires and Retirements will be recognized if any are present. Pg. 6

Public Hearing

4. This is almost 100 pages of the Clean Energy Plan.  Did you know that Richland electric customers have on average one-and-a-third refrigerators? Read about it here. Pg. 7-102

5. Bye, bye waterfront park. The information on rezoning for development is here. Pg. 166-170

6. Authorizing a franchise agreement with U.S. Cellular. It’s a non-exclusive agreement. Page. 171-217.

Public Comment  You have two minutes to comment. See the rules at the top of the agenda.

Consent Calendar

7. Approval of minutes for the April 17, City Council Annual Retreat; the September 21, City Council Regular Meeting; and the September 28, council workshop. Pg. 105-117

8. Approximately $7 million in bond proceeds are needed to support the capital plan for electric infrastructure for 2022 and 2023, in addition to rate financing and developer contributions. The bonds would be issued for a term no longer than 25 years. Pg. 118-161

9. Washington Cities Insurance Authority recommends an amendment to the City’s code to clarify that the crime and fidelity insurance policy satisfies the statutory requirements for performance bonds by specific officers and employees in the City of Richland. Pg. 162-165

10. SEE ITEM 5

11. SEE ITEM 6

12. The city is giving a developer the road right-of-way from Davenport to Wellsian Way but will retain 30 feet for a pedestrian pathway over a water line. Pg. 218-228

13. This item reads “Authorizing a Purchase Order with Axon Enterprises, Inc. for Public Safety Camera Systems.”  Let me amend this to add “AND TASERS.” On page two, “The Richland Police Department intends to purchase a police camera system to include body-worn cameras, dashboard cameras, air cards, interview room cameras, and tasers with these funds; and…..”

All the Tri-Cities police agencies will use Axon to make coordination simpler. For each of the next five years, Richland will pay Axon $202,709.07 (includes sales tax). Pg. 226-242

14. This authorizes a grant application to the Washington State Department of Ecology which has issued a Call for Projects for its 2021-2023 Air Quality grant cycle, for projects to reduce air pollutions. The Tri-Cities area has been identified as one of the state’s “Areas of Concern” for certain air pollutants. No joke Sherlock (or words to that effect). Pg. 243-245

15. A consultant, Mercer (US) Inc. that helps the city negotiate “health and welfare benefit plans” for employees will be paid $125,000 in 2022 and the city manager will be authorized to renew their contract beyond that with a 3% annual increase.  Pg. 246-259

16. The city is purchasing some land for $16,300 for the Center Parkway Extension Project. Pg. 260-270.

17. The city will pay Palouse Power LLC $1,249,045.50 for boring and trenching for an electric cable replacement project. The area to be bored and trenched is north of Van Giesen Street and west of McMurray Street in North Richland.  Pg. 271-278, a map is on pg. 278

18. According to the city, “The purpose of this resolution is to authorize a change order for Paramount Communications, Inc.  for the underground renewal and replacement project in the Indian Court area for boring conduit contractor services. The original contract amount was $89,000 plus tax. However, supply chain impacts on conduit materials and previously unknown underground concrete rubbish caused time and cost impacts exceeding the 10% change order threshold. Completion of the electrical renewal and replacement project is necessary and recommended to maintain electrical infrastructure and reliable electrical service.”  Pg. 270-281.

19. The approves the final plat for Siena Hills – Phase 1. Pg. 282-341

20. Wendy Higgins and Douglas Sako will be approved to serve on the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.  Only two people applied.

Douglas “Gus” Sako, owner of the Octopus Garden and Luna Fish in the Uptown Shopping Center, is among the longest serving members of the boards and commissions. Last year Sako told The Observer that he was conflicted on term limits for boards and commissions. He also joked that the committees needed to serve more cookies.  Pg. 342-343.

Steve Sullivan will be appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Three people applied. Pg. 344-345


Items of Business:

Approving the Links Residence at Horn Rapids Planned Unit Development. A lot of people will be unhappy no matter which way this goes. You can read which side people are on here: pg. 346-1375.

Blah, Blah Blah from city manager and council before the meeting adjourns.