Kennewick officials are pondering the community’s future: more of the same retail-driven development, a wine-themed development, or the place in the Pacific Northwest for comfortable affordable retirement?
What city leaders ultimately decide will set the course of development and economic viability for decades to come, says Bob Hammond, the city manager, who is calling for the serious visioning.
Councilman Bob Parks and Mayor Tom Moak brainstormed about the possibilities for 90 minutes Tuesday during the council’s economic development committee meeting with Hammond and Jeff Kossow, the newly hired economic development director.
“What are we missing? Do we have gaps in retail? What do you see coming here? asked Hammond. A Tuscan-like village with boating access and mixed-commercial areas tied into residential neighborhoods is what Moak said he could imagine along the river between the blue and cable bridge.
A blend of something new without forgetting about what Kennewick needs to retain from its past, offered Parks. The Southridge area would be perfect for high end wineries and tasting rooms, Parks suggested.
Or, seizing upon the current trend toward green thinking, Hammond asked if Kennewick couldn’t become a green-jobs hot spot for the Pacific Northwest. The idea resonated with Kossow, who noted that the Tri-Cities has plenty of engineering and scientific resources, some high-technology businesses, a university and the potential for creating business incubators.
Hammond welcomed all suggestions, including those that would seem far beyond being possible. The “how” would come later, he said. “This is about philosophy, ideas that are out of the box,” Hammond said, prodding for far-reaching suggestions.
As Kennewick begins to ratchet down during the national recession, Hammond and the council are intent on developing a strategy to build the city’s economic base by deciding what they want, and then going after it. “If you know what you really want, then there’s a lot of ways to go after it, ” he said.
Kossow, who was executive director for the Three Rivers Convention Center until Hammond hired him last month to be Kennewick’s point man on economic development, said once the council decides what the vision should be his job is to make it happen.
“This is a tremendous opportunity. Once we brand what we have, we go out and sell it,” Kossow said. “This is a community reshaping itself,” he added, The committee meeting was not an official public meeting because only two council members attended but the public could attend.
The council’s budget and infrastructure committees also met Tuesday in different rooms at city hall. Hammond suggested using council committees last month, saying he wanted to get the council members more involved with city staff on various issues so there could be better direction in the decision-making.
Kossow will lead the economic development committee, while Marie Mosley, director of support services, will head the budget committee. Peter Beaudry, director of municipal services, will lead the infrastructure committee.
All council committee meetings are open to the public but no public comment will be allowed.
Source: Tri-City Herald