During Richland City Council workshops which are held monthly, councilmembers receive information about issues before the city. The Council does not vote or take citizen comments at workshops. Sometimes the matters discussed come before the council later for a vote and then residents can comment publicly. Until then, residents can email the councilmembers their opinions.
The Observer was the only resident at Richland City Hall for the July 27 city council workshop. Following are her notes on the meeting.
Declaring Property at Lawless and Thayer Surplus
Based on the discussion at the Tuesday night workshop, the Richland City Council intends to proceed to declare the property at the intersection of Lawless Drive and Thayer Drive as surplus.
Only four members of the council were present at the meeting, Councilmembers Phil Lemley, Terry Christensen, Michael Alvarez and Marianne Boring.
Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky made a presentation to the council with details on the property.
Rogalsky explained that the Washington State Department of Transportation placed restrictions on the sale of the two parcels of property when they were given to the city. The city must repay the highway commission for the money they paid for one parcel. Proceeds from a sale of the other parcel must go to street improvements.
He noted that the Economic Development Committee recommended the property be designated surplus when it met on May 24, 2021. The Planning Commission did the same on May 26, 2021.
The property has no zoning attached to it as it is not included in the city’s comprehensive plan. The process to determine the land use designation could take well into next year according to Rogalsky.
Rogalsky pointed out that a developer could buy the undesignated property and work through the zoning process. He recommended the city decide on the best land use for the property before selling it so the land could be more accurately valued.
A city council vote on declaring the property surplus could occur as early as next week.
Transportation Grant Opportunities
Rogalsky also went through a list of possible transportation grant opportunities.
He said that the Marcus Whitman Elementary School area has gaps in the sidewalks that children use to walk to school. He wants to apply to the Washington Transportation Improvement Board for funding to fill in those gaps.
He suggested to the council that they up the amount of matching funds they were willing to contribute for the downtown connectivity project. [Note: The Observer asked Iterim City Manager for clarification on the dollar amount increase but has not received a response.] The project includes making Jadwin Avenue and George Washington Way one way in the downtown area. Sidewalks and bikeways would be part of a package of other improvement. He said that if the city was willing to kick in more money, their grant application to the state might receive more attention.
The council generally approved of that idea. Christensen said that the additional funding would have to be part of the budget process so that the impact to other projects could be considered. The other councilmembers present agreed with that approach.
North Horn Rapids Transmission Planning & Scheduling
Clint Whitney, Energy Services Director, discussed the schedule for building the new transmission line to the substation at North Horn Rapids that will serve some of the new industrial users in that area of town.
Whitney noted, “We don’t have a generation issue. We have a transmission issue.”
Whitney outlined plans for transmission projects that will provide power to other newly developed areas of Richland.