Consultant weighs options for Kennewick’s Vista Field

By Kristi Pihl, December 13, 2012, Tri-City Herald

Making Vista Field Airport a premier airport or redeveloping the property as a mixed-use walkable community both would have a positive economic benefit for the Tri-Cities.

But the costs and tradeoffs will be different, Michael Mehaffy, project manager with consultant Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. told Port of Kennewick commissioners this week.

Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. is in the process of analyzing the two visions of the airport property’s future, which were created with input from the community at workshops last month.

Mehaffy reminded commissioners that both proposals were viable options for the 90-acre airfield near the Three Rivers Convention Center.

A draft of the report will be issued in early January, he said. There will be a 30-day comment period, and then the final report will be issued in early February, Mehaffy said.

An environmental impact statement will be a result of the study. It’s a legal requirement for major land use actions, Mehaffy said.

The report also will include an economic analysis where the two options are compared with each other and to a baseline of current Vista Field activity, he said.

Part of what will be included is the fiscal impact to the port and likely change in the port’s operating income, Mehaffy said. In both scenarios, that will be better than what currently occurs with Vista Field.

However, the amount of investment required from the public will be different, he said. The airport investment option likely will require more investment from the public.

Port Commission Chairman Skip Novakovich said the port has the information now to help make a good decision on the property’s future.

Tim Arntzen, port executive director, said the port will use the information in the report and ask Foster Pepper of Seattle to come up with financing options for the two options.

That aspect is critical, Novakovich said.

The port intends to let taxpayers decide what they will support using an advisory vote next year.

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