Kennewick hopes to buy part of Columbia Park

Kennewick hopes to buy part of Columbia Park
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Spending money to make money, that's the plan for Kennewick. The city is taking the first steps towards buying part of Columbia Park.

It's a long process that includes working with the Army Corps of Engineers and local tribes.

If it all goes through, Kennewick stands to earn more tax revenue.

It's a place where mothers bring their kids to play, to climb and swing at the "Playground of Dreams." A place where families come to fish and relax. The place where Kim Hanson comes to exercise with her dogs.

She said, "We had our company picnic here this summer. It was nice. It was convenient, and it's close. It's just a nice open space."

This is the reason Kennewick wants to own a piece of Columbia Park. Right now, the land is in Kennewick, yet owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The city has its eye on a 40-acre chunk of land. It includes the area surrounding the lagoon, the playground and, most importantly, the open space you often see the McCurley dealerships selling cars on holiday weekends.

The idea is to cut out the middleman. The has an agreement the Corps to use the property. That is limited to just a few times a year. Owning the land would give Kennewick more flexibility to add more events.

Officials are quick to say this is just the beginning of a very long process. After the appraisals are done and surveys are done, it could take years to get to the point where they're able to purchase the land.

Kennewick will pay $14,000 to start the process. The land will be divided up and assessed, attaching a value to each piece. This would give Kennewick a better idea of a total purchase price.

Their end goal: make more money out of Columbia Park. Kennewick gets about one percent of sales tax revenue on items sold there. Add that to the gazebo and park rentals, and it barely covers maintenance.

Neighbors like Kim are on board to expand the future of Columbia Park, "If it's gonna let everyone enjoy it, yeah, more power to them."

It will take at least a year to get the first part of the research done. Local tribes will also have a chance to weigh in the process.

KEPR reported the city made six figures on sales tax and rental fees in 2011.

*Editor's Note: KEPR stated that the city leases the land on a payment basis from the Army Corps of Engineers when, in fact, they have permission to use it free of charge. The city pays for maintenance to the park in exchange for the land use.