Tri-City ports celebrate milestones, focus on what’s ahead for 2018

The Tri-City’s top port officials talked about their agency’s recent accomplishments and goals for the new year at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Ports luncheon.

Officials from the ports of Pasco, Benton and Kennewick participated in the Nov. 29 panel discussion moderated by Mike Gonzalez, evening news anchor and news director for KAPP-KVEW TV.

Questions for the panel were submitted by luncheon attendees.

Here’s a recap of what they had to say:


Port of Pasco

The largest project undertaken by the Port of Pasco to date resulted in it being named the Port of the Year by the Washington Public Ports Association. The $43 million Tri-Cities Airport redesign and expansion was cited as “an achievement that showcases what ports do best — taking a long view of improving key assets.”

The port has more airport improvements in the works, including plans for a new hotel near the airport entrance, ongoing negotiations with major airlines for direct flights to Los Angeles and automated improvements to Transportation Security Administration bag processing.

Following this past year’s repaving of the World War II-era general aviation apron, the port will be investing $8 million in a taxiway realignment project, set to begin this year, which will open up more space at the airport for development.

Randy Hayden, executive director of the port, said after success with its East Side Industrial Park, the port is in the process of buying 100-plus acres for a new industrial park in east Pasco from the Department of Natural Resources.

The port is also looking at buying more water rights due to increasing water scarcity, Hayden said.

Big Pasco has seen new tenants come into the industrial center this past year, including filling the site’s Osprey Pointe office spaces. There are still parcels available at the Foster Wells Business Park off Highway 395.

The port recently launched Food Pointe, a Monday-through-Thursday gathering place for food trucks, next to Osprey Pointe.

Hayden also reported a consultant recently has been hired to determine the best location for a daily, year-round, artisanal public market in Pasco. Two sites up for consideration are the old Marine Terminal by the cable bridge and in downtown Pasco near the existing farmers market.

Hayden said the port will continue to work with the city and other organizations on the Somos Pasco initiative, which aims to develop a 20-year vision for Pasco’s future.


Port of Benton

After celebrating the completion of additional improvements to Crow Butte Park, the port is looking forward to new and ongoing projects on several fronts.

Development of the former Department of Energy mega site off Horn Rapids Road is currently being master planned. Part of the acreage is being scoped for a solar farm. In 2018, the port hopes to attract other supportive, renewable energy industries to the smaller remaining parcels of land.

In Prosser, the port continues to promote available properties in the second phase of its Vintner Village project, as well as spaces coming in fall 2018 at its new, three-bay incubator building, which also will be home to the Prosser Economic Development Association.

Scott Keller, executive director at the Port of Benton, said a $2.5 million expansion project for Prosser’s Chukar Cherry Co. goes out for bid in mid-December.

Similar financial assistance has been provided to other burgeoning local businesses, such as Labrie Glass Studio in Benton City, throughout the port’s territory this past year. These economic development efforts are expected to continue, he said.

Improvements continue at the Richland Airport. An extensive pavement rehabilitation project was completed this fall, which included crack sealing, seal coating and new pavement markings.

In 2018, the port will focus on the new entrance planned for the airport, which will bring greater visibility. This project will include widening of the existing roadway, new signage and an archway.

Prosser’s airport also will see updates.

The Port of Benton is also looking forward to holding its next Young Eagles day. This fall, volunteer pilots provided more than 200 free rides to kids ages 6 to 18 in their aircraft at the annual event at the Richland Airport.

Initiatives which expand tourism efforts continue to be at the forefront of the port’s agenda.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park interim visitor center is at the port’s Tri-Cities Enterprise Center while the port collaborates with national park officials and other local groups to develop more amenities for park visitors.

The port also wants to establish more interpretive resources at the USS Triton sail and conning tower site, including a visitor center. In 2018, the port will be looking into funding options for the project.


Port of Kennewick

The Port of Kennewick’s final project for 2017 was the completion of the Clover Island overhaul. The project involved shoreline restoration, the addition of several new sculptures, walkable paths and points of interest, including a lighthouse and installation of The Gathering Place interpretive area.

Across Duffy’s Pond, ground was broken in 2017 for the Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village on Columbia Drive. Two new wineries are scheduled to open there this month and in February.

Tim Arntzen, the port’s chief executive officer, said the port is now moving into the second phase of the Columbia Gardens project.

This phase will consist of the expansion of infrastructure and more sites available for sale or lease to small businesses, such as breweries, art galleries, restaurants and others businesses that complement artisanal culture.

The $10 million, 20,000-square-foot Columbia Basin College culinary arts institute is in the planning stages, with a four-year timeline currently projected. The proposed site is The Willows, next to Columbia Gardens.

Columbia Gardens and The Willows are a part of a broader plan to revitalize Kennewick’s downtown area.

Arntzen said he considers the Latino Heritage Mural scheduled to be installed on the new wine buildings to be one of the port’s greatest accomplishments of 2017.

A Miami artist has been selected by the Latino community. Arntzen said the mural is intended to be a direct reflection of the contribution Latinos have made to the region and the wine industry.

Other 2017 accomplishments include the private sector sale of several parcels along Columbia Park Trail in Richland, which the port helped to develop into the Spaulding Business Park.

This undertaking has supported $50 million of private sector investment, the construction of 218,000 square feet of buildings and the creation of 595 local jobs.

In 2017, the port also sold 12 acres to support the wine industry, completed a 93-acre light industrial park master plan for the site of the old racetrack, and partnered on the Yakima River Gateway Project to improve parkland amenities in West Richland.

As for the much-anticipated Vista Field redevelopment, ground is set to be broken for the first phase in 2018.

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