Update: Tri-Cities Regional PFD to move forward with aquatic center

<p>Regional PFD Meeting</p>

Regional PFD Meeting

The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District decides to move forward with a regional aquatic center.

The nine members of the regional district voted 7 - 2 in favor of pursuing an aquatic center as the PFD's first regional project.

The vote took place after about two hours of discussion at tonight's meeting.

The proposed location for the aquatic center will be at the TRAC in Pasco.

Now, the district will start to work out all the details of the $35 million project.

The aquatic center will only be built if voters in the Tri-Cities approve a .1% sales tax, which could be on the ballot in November 2013.

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The Tri-Cities community could move a big step closer to having a regional facility like an aquatics center or a performing arts center tonight.

Tonight, the nine members of the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District are expected to vote and decide on which regional project or projects to move forward with.

But that's just step one.

After this decision, the public will then get the chance the give the project the final yes or no.

After a couple of years of research, planning and public polls, the Tri-Cities could make major progress tonight toward creating a regional facility.

"Well, I think it's huge for the Tri-Cities" said Don Britain, Regional PFD member.

The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District is looking at four projects to present to voters for approval:

A $36 million performing arts center, a $35 million aquatic center, a $15 million expansion project for the Three Rivers Convention Center, and $14 million for the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

Tonight, the district is expected to pick one or two of the projects to move forward with.

"At our last meeting, we chose a 0.1% sales tax option which allows us $39.5 million to go forward to the voters with a project" said Britain.

Many residents in the Tri-Cities are split on whether or not they would be willing to fund a regional project of that size.

"The aquatic center is good. All the projects they've talked about seem like something we could use" said Wayne Cane, Pasco resident.

"I probably wouldn't support it. I'm a middle school teacher, and right now, I see that really, if there's any increase in taxes, I'd really support increasing the size of our schools and building more schools" said Katie Stover, Pasco resident.

Britain says after the project or projects are chosen, the real work will begin, so everyone in the community knows exactly what they'll be voting on.

"The last time the Tri-Cities came together to vote on something on a regional basis, it was Ben Franklin Transit, and that's been almost 30 years ago. So this is big" said Britain.

The regional PFD is made up of three representatives from each city.

In order for a project to be approved, at least two of the three members from each city must agree.

Tonight's meeting starts at 6:30 PM.

It will be held at Kennewick City Hall.

The public is invited.

At a Kennewick City Council meeting last night, a member of Kennewick's PFD suggested the city not wait on the Regional PFD to potentially expand the Three Rivers Convention Center.

However, as of right now, the city council is taking no action on the suggestion, and no formal requests have been made.