The city of Kennewick and Port of Kennewick discussed becoming tag-team partners in planning the future for the city’s riverfront district between the blue and cable bridges, including Clover Island, and resolving what to do with Vista Field during a 90-minute joint board and council meeting Monday.
The workshop at the Clover Island Inn focused on items of mutual concern but officials spent the most time talking about whether the Vista Field Airport should be closed.
The facility, which is on prime real estate managed by the Port of Kennewick, is coveted by developers for commercial and retail that would complement Three Rivers Convention Center. But airport proponents said it also has great economic potential if expanded.
Port officials have been reluctant to go either way.
“It’s been a real frustration,” said David Hansen, port chairman, who noted that the airport issue consumes nearly all of the port’s staff resources and time. “Everything else is at a standstill. It’s draining us and I’m tired of spending money (studying) it,” he said.
Kennewick Mayor Tom Moak said the airport is in the middle of where Kennewick would like to see development occur. “It could be the center of activities for the Tri-Cities,” he said.
And Steve Young, the Kennewick councilman most vocal about closing the airport, said indecision by the port commissioners has paralyzed the city at a time when big decisions in the Vista Entertainment District needs to be made.
“This issue is so critical. The community needs to know where we’re headed,” he said.
The joint meeting — apparently the first that anyone could recall in more that 20 years — ended with agreement that the city council and port commission will continue to talk about working in concert on common issues.
“The city is willing to work with the port but we don’t know what the port (commissioners) want,” Moak said.
Approximately 30 people attended the session, including several who spoke for and against keeping the airport.