Tri-City Port Officials to Tackle Projects

Kristi Pihl, November 29, 2013, Tri-City Herald

Starting construction on the $43.5 million remodel of the Tri-Cities Airport terminal, improving Crow Butte Park marina near Paterson and kickstarting Columbia Drive redevelopment in Kennewick are among the projects Tri-City port officials plan to tackle in the coming year.

The 2014 projects planned by the ports of Benton, Kennewick, Pasco and Walla Walla will range from building sewer pipe underneath the Snake River to planning the next steps for Kennewick’s Vista Field Airport.

Here are some of the top projects on each port’s 2014 to-do lists:

Port of Benton

Part of the Port of Benton’s $5.6 million capital budget next year will help finish the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser.

Most of the $4 million project is completed, and Stuart Dezember, the port’s finance director and auditor, said officials anticipate occupying the building starting Dec. 31.

The project was paid for using state and federal grants, as well as donations, he said. The 14,900-square-foot center’s goal is to tell the story of the state’s wine industry and honor Walter Clore, who worked at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center north of Prosser and helped prove wine grapes would be a viable crop. He died in 2003.

The port also will put a $2.3 million state grant to work and replace some of the wood portions of the Columbia Park Trail railroad bridge with steel, a critical project for safety, Dezember said.

Port officials also expect to finish remodeling the Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, building the port bought last year to serve as offices for the port and as incubator space for up to eight small businesses. About $1.5 million is planned for the project next year, on top of $400,000 already spent.

When the port moves its administrative offices there, it will free up more space in the port’s current offices for tenants to expand and move in, Dezember said.

The port will make $1 million in improvements at Crow Butte Park marina to build ten new boat slips, widen the boat launch and add a fish cleaning station and restroom, he said. The bulk of the cost will be covered by a $800,000 state grant.

The Prosser Airport will undergo $500,000 in pavement maintenance on the runway and taxilane, while a $110,000 project at the Richland Airport will finish security fencing and remove obstructions, Dezember said.

Port of Kennewick

Among the Port of Kennewick’s $5.1 million capital projects next year is a commitment to put about $1.3 million toward starting redevelopment on Kennewick’s Columbia Drive.

The port is working with the city of Kennewick on the wine-inspired development, with the port remodeling 211 and 421 E. Columbia Drive for wine production and winery-related businesses, and the city putting in a winery effluent treatment system, said Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development.

The port also is remodeling a 30,000-square-foot office and research and development space rented by Bruker Elemental. The remodel of the 23-year-old building at 415 N. Quay St. is expected to cost about $800,000.

The port is also putting $650,000 toward redeveloping Vista Field Airport, with the intention of buying a hangar from businessman Mike Shannon as part of the closure and beginning in-depth planning for the site.

Clover Island will see about $600,000 in improvements to the boat launch, including adding restrooms, a wash down area, trailer parking, security lighting and landscaping, Peterson said.

Port officials also intend to put about $49,000 into planning for the former Tri-City Raceway near West Richland to determine the potential cost of site improvements for a wine-related development.

Port of Pasco

Four of the Port of Pasco’s top capital projects in its $30.7 million capital budget next year will benefit the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.

Construction on the terminal remodel is expected to begin next year, with about $9.9 million of the project’s total cost spent in 2014, said Randy Hayden, the port’s deputy executive director. The port is using a variety of airport-related funding sources to pay for the project.

Also, taxiway D will be realigned in a $10.4 million project paid for by an FAA grant, he said.

The FAA’s Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range, or VOR, radio beacon will be relocated next year. Officials said it’s necessary for the terminal expansion. The $4.8 million project will be paid for using an FAA grant and passenger facility charges from airline tickets, Hayden said.

The port is also spending $1 million to work with the city of Pasco and Columbia Basin College to widen Argent Road from two lanes to a five-lane landscaped boulevard, Hayden said.

Also on the port’s to-do list is buying the PFC Wagenaar Army Reserve Center using $250,000 from the port’s general fund. The 17,000-square-foot building will be added to the Osprey Pointe Business Park and be available for lease, Hayden said.

Port of Walla Walla

Port of Walla Walla capital projects that will benefit the Burbank area include adding sewer and water infrastructure to the Burbank Business Park and rail extensions at the Dodd Road Business Park, said Jim Kuntz, the port’s executive director.

Work will be done next year to connect the Burbank Business Park to the city of Pasco’s sewer system. That involves drilling and installing a sewage line under the Snake River. The goal is to spur economic development by offering city sewer rather than septic systems.

About $3 million of the $4.7 million needed for the project in 2014 will come from state grants, according to port documents.

At Dodd Road Business Park, about $2.4 million will be spent for rail improvements, most of it covered by state grants, according to port documents.

The port is extending existing rail to the recently opened Railex Wine Services and creating parallel tracks to help the company stack and store the additional produce rail cars, officials have said.

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