Tapteal Greenway promises to fight Rachel Road until funds run dry

Tapteal Greenway promises to fight Rachel Road until funds run dry
RICHLAND, Wash. -- Dozens attended a final stand for the Amon Creek Preserve and against the Rachel Road extension Tuesday night. The protected wetlands are slated to be cut in half by the planned, yet controversial, extension. It's created a fight that proponents say they'll take up until their wallets run dry.

“Tapteal will exhaust all of its working funds in order to protect city property," said Scott Woodward, president of Tapteal Greenway, an organization aimed at protecting the Amon Creek Preserve.

It was the promise of the night. Tapteal Greenway will not go down without a fight.

“I don't understand how anyone can believe that running a road through a natural preserve is not going to impact that natural preserve in a negative manner,” said Kennewick resident Jim Deatherage. “This is a precious space. I don't know who or where this push for the road comes from."

The push comes from the city of Richland. A proposed development by Hayden Homes would create a large subdivision in and around Amon Creek. The city wants Rachel Road to extend through the preserve as a right of way for future traffic.

“After months of negotiation, an agreement was made that included Hayden Homes donating dedicated conservation land and Tapteal purchasing lots to protect city property,” said Woodward.

Essentially, Hayden Homes and Tapteal worked out a plan that would protect the area, but the city still hasn't budged on their Rachel Road extension.

“The preserve is necessary for all life,” said Dorothea Ferris-Narum. “This treasure will be destroyed if the plans for the Rachel Road extension are permitted. Roads through a preserve defeat the purpose of a preserve.”

Tuesday night's arguments are part of what's called a closed-record review of the Hayden Homes development, Clearwater Creek. Eventually, Council will decide whether or not to approve its plans, but without one member.

“I would be financially compensated," said Councilmember Brad Anderson.

Anderson recused himself from the decision before the meeting got underway, citing personal conflict.

“I believe it would be the safest route to go,” he said.

That leaves five members and the mayor to decide if Rachel Road will continue on, to be seen, as Tapteal members say, as a scar on a Tri-City treasure.

"We're speaking, and we're asking our leaders to listen and preserve that treasure," said another proponent of Amon Basin.

This was the last time residents will get to talk directly to the council about the Clearwater Creek development. The council will make its final decision in the coming weeks.