Kristi Pihl, January 14, 2014, Tri-City Herald
The Port of Kennewick is starting out the year continuing to work on Vista Field Airport closure efforts and planning for a boutique wine village along Kennewick’s Columbia Drive.
The end of flights in and out of Vista Field is only one step toward completing the final closure of the former airport, said Port of Kennewick Commission President Don Barnes on Tuesday.
The port formally closed the airport Dec. 31, removing airport markings from the runway and painting giant yellow X’s on it. Each line on the “X” is almost 130 feet long and can clearly be seen from the sky, port officials said.
Port commissioners decided in 2013 to close the small general aviation airport near the Three Rivers Convention Center in favor of redevelopment that may include a mix of commercial, office, retail, public parks and residential space.
The former fixed base operator building has been secured, said Amber Hanchette, the port’s director of real estate and operations. Notices have been posted at the airport indicating it is closed. The beacon and runway lights have been turned off, she said.
The port has asked the city to remove signs for the former airport, including low-flying signs on Kellogg Street, said Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development.
The signs themselves will be saved to possibly be used at the redeveloped Vista Field, potentially in a public plaza or a museum, he said.
Barnes commended staff for the progress made so far on the closure.
The port has received several requests for events to be held at the former airport, said Port Executive Director Tim Arntzen.
However, commissioners decided Tuesday not to make the field available for events this year.
There are a number of potential hazards on the former airfield, and Arntzen said the port also plans to remove the fuel facilities and anything else that could be a problem.
The port also may demolish the old T-hangars this year, Arntzen said. All those tenants already have moved out.
Port officials also will pick up where the Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. study left off in envisioning the future development of the 113 acres at Vista Field.
Meanwhile, with Columbia Drive, Peterson said port and city of Kennewick staff are working on proposed zoning and plans that would best fit the vision of a boutique wine village.
The wine village would be built on port-owned property called Columbia Gardens, a 5.9 acres in the middle of Columbia Drive that used to be the home of Beaver Furniture and the Chieftain Apartments. In total, the port owns about 16 of the 28 acres on the north side of Columbia Drive between the cable bridge and Clover Island Drive.
This year, the port plans to remodel 211 and 421 E. Columbia Drive for wine production and winery-related businesses.
The city plans to install a winery effluent treatment system to serve the area. City efforts also may include extending the existing nature trail around Duffy’s Pond and paving parking lots and driveways.