Need to Know SOUTH COLUMBIA POINT
At some point in the next few months, the Richland Parks & Recreation Commission (P&RC) will be soliciting input regarding the future of South Columbia Point, i.e., the area of Columbia Point south of the I-182 bridge in Richland. LCBAS has recently written letters to the P&RC urging that all of South Columbia Point be preserved for the long term as a natural area. The LCBAS board will keep you informed as the process evolves, via the Curlew and e-alerts. At the appropriate time, the LCBAS board will request that you participate in open houses/commission meetings and/or write letters/e-mails in support of preserving this area as a natural open space park. More information about the history of South Columbia Point and talking points about why it should be a natural open space park are below. We hope to include parts of this info in future Curlews.
A Brief Summary of the Administrative History Regarding South Columbia Point (SCP)
Several official plans have been written that contain information relevant to SCP. Richland’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) has several sections, including one describing land use and another describing capital facilities. Richland’s Parks Master Plan gives an overall description of the different parks and facilities. Finally, there is the Rivershore Master Plan (a rivershore park-specific master plan). A key issue of concern is inconsistency among these plans. Resolving these inconsistencies will, in part, be based on discussion this year regarding what the public wants to see happen at SCP. P&RC will use this information to make a recommendation to City Council.
A timeline of the plans
The Capital Facilities section of the Comp Plan designated SCP’s 230 acres as a “natural open space park, undeveloped.”
The Land Use section of the Comp Plan designated part of the South Columbia Point Environment as open space and part as vacant.
The Rivershore Master Plan included plans for roads, parking, campgrounds, a festival/events area, and picnic shelters at South Columbia Point.
2002 thru 2007
The Richland Parks Master Plan designated SCP (230 acres) as a natural open space park. Its recommendation is to have Preservation/Creation of a festival area/internal natural open space trails. Definition of ‘natural open space areas’ is “undeveloped land primarily left in its natural environment with recreation uses as a secondary objective…”
2006 thru 2013
The Richland Parks Master Plan and the Capital Facilities section of the Comp Plan designated SCP as a natural open space park again and included the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center. They include the statement “Natural Open Space consists of land intended to remain largely undeveloped over the long term with limited public access, including Bateman Island, Chamna Natural Preserve, South Columbia Point, and Badger Mountain.”
The Land Use map of the Comp Plan split up SCP among natural open space, developed open space, and parks & public facilities (this split designation may have occurred in 1999 or 2000).
The Richland Parks Master Plan (which has recently been recommended for approval to Council by the Parks and Recreation Commission), designates 23 acres of South Columbia Point as a natural open space park and 110 acres as a “special use” park.
LCBAS has urged the Parks & Rec Commission to (re-)designate all of South Columbia Point as a natural open space park and to recommend changing the land use designations to natural open space for the entire area.
There are many reasons for South Columbia Point to be classified as a Natural Open Space Park
- South Columbia Point connects to the Chamna Natural Preserve and the Yakima Delta area, and is isolated from the activities of the adjacent Marina Park by a highway – this is highly desirable for wildlife and habitat connectivity.
- Trails are already present that connect to trails to Bateman Island and Chamna and beyond, including to the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center – this is highly desirable for people connectivity and accessibility.
- This area could easily accommodate Americans Disability Act (ADA) trails – this is highly desirable to give disabled persons ready access to a natural area.
- While it has been disturbed in the past, South Columbia Point still has a variety of native plant species and provides good habitat and connectivity for wildlife and birds. It also contains both riparian and upland habitat.
- SCP has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. It has both a rich Native American history and more recent history involving the settlement of our community.
- The lack of vehicular access can easily be maintained with no additional costs. Vandalism has been greatly reduced since vehicular access has been restricted.
- The existing utilities at SCP could be used to provide needed restroom facilities. These utilities can also be used to establish an ecology education field station.
- SCP was recommended for classification as natural open space in the nationally recognized Ridges to Rivers Open Space Vision Plan. This plan is based on public input.
- Defining SCP as natural open space would not require cash outflow from the City since it is already owned by the City or leased from the Army Corps of Engineers. Thus, there would be no conflict with private ownership.
- The Capital Facilities section of the current Comprehensive Plan includes the statement “Natural Open Space consists of land intended to remain largely undeveloped over the long term with limited public access, including Bateman Island, Chamna Natural Preserve, South Columbia Point, and Badger Mountain.” This is a commitment that should be honored.