April 19, 2015, Tri-City Herald
Port of Kennewick commissioners showed foresight and an accommodating spirit during their latest discussions on the development of Vista Field.
For that, the community should be grateful.
The conflict between the port and the Kennewick Public Facilities District over plans for the same small piece of property had the potential to stall progress on one of the most exciting development opportunities in the Tri-Cities.
Fortunately, both sides came together with a willingness to negotiate and it was port officials who conceded their original position.
Their decision to bend is a relief to all those working to turn this budding entertainment district into a spectacular tourist and convention site.
It is not a matter of taking sides, but rather being open to looking at the bigger vision and how each jurisdiction can fit into it.
The public facilities district owns the Three Rivers Convention Center and manages the Toyota Center for the city. Its expansion plans include constructing a building that would connect the two venues with a food court area.
But that particular spot was where port officials wanted to place a road connecting the parking lot currently shared by the Toyota Center and convention center to a planned street east of the complex leading to Vista Field.
Both groups had worked with their own separate architects for their designs and it was obvious they needed to come together and look at the entire concept, not just their own proposals.
So, after a three-hour meeting that also included Kennewick City Council members, port officials decided to step back from the proposed road and unanimously decided to remove it from their draft master plan for Vista Field.
Their willingness to compromise for the sake of a cohesive development plan is exactly the kind of attitude needed if Vista Field’s potential is to be met. It also sets an important tone for future meetings between the port, the council and the facilities district.
Too often the main players in the Tri-Cities only look within their own boundaries and fail to see how their proposed projects could fit in with their neighbors’ plans. Perhaps community leaders are finally at a point where they can truly work together for the good of the Tri-Cities as a whole, instead of focusing only on their own jurisdictions.
There are still questions about what to do with the aging coliseum and the possible construction of a standalone performing arts center on Vista Field property. Decisions will have to be made carefully and with broad support.
Vista Field may be in Kennewick, but the success of its development will benefit the entire region.
Port of Kennewick commissioners have set a good example. If the rest of the discussion about Vista Field can be conducted in the same generous spirit, the plan will be more solid and progress more likely.