You won’t want to miss Tuesday’s Richland City Council workshop which will probably last longer than last Tuesday’s 36-minute meeting, that Mayor Terry Christensen declared, “not a record.

It begins with a discussion of the history of the Reach Museum. This discussion is likely connected to an on-going effort to create a performing arts center near the museum in Richland.

The council will also discuss the 46 priority transportation projects and zoning changes to land given to Washington State University and property recently declared surplus.

The council provided a packet of details. The workshop begins at 6 pm and will be live on Cable Channel 192 and streamed online at Richland City View.

The Reach Museum

On August 30, 2022, during a special council workshop, Steve Wiley, Chair of the Arts Center Task Force proposed putting a performing arts center on land leased by the city at the location of the Reach Museum.

Wiley asked that city residents be allowed to vote on a tax measure to create a public-private partnership with the Arts Center Task Force to build and support a Mid-Columbia Performing Arts Center.

There is evidence that the matter is being moved forward behind the scenes.

In a March 14 email that was obtained through a public record request, City Manager Jon Amundson wrote Councilmember Ryan Lukson, “Councilmember Lukson, We will begin due diligence on possibilities of including a ballot measure as part of the strategic plan.”

The arts center proposal intersects with the city’s efforts to gain ownership of land adjacent to the Reach Museum that is currently owned by the federal government and controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Getting the arts community behind the transfer of the land, would help that effort, although it is common knowledge that without the approval of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, that transfer is going nowhere.

Priority Transportation Projects

It should come as no surprise that the number one transportation priority for Richland is the Hwy. 240 Aaron Interchange improvements. It has been at the top of the list for several years.

City Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky worked tirelessly in 2021 to obtain funding from the state. Most of the money allocated that year went to alternative transportation and the city received funds for a bike/pedestrian bridge over Hwy. 240.

The second priority is funding for downtown connectivity which will make George Washington Way and Jadwin one way in the downtown area. In third place are the improvements to the south George Washington Way intersection at the shopping center with  Winco. The plan includes a pedestrian bridge over the traffic.

Go to the packet for a list of the other 43 priorities.

Comprehensive plan and development regulations

The council will consider rezoning the over 22 acres of land that it gave to Washington State University from public use to high density residential and multi-family residential.

The city will create a new zoning district for land north of the WSU campus, University District (UNIV).

The 4.3 acres that the city recently declared surplus, will be zoned C-2 for retail business. The land lies just south of a former piece of parkland that was declared surplus and sold to Tim Bush. That property was declared surplus and approved for sale to Bush on December 18, 2018.