Recently the Tri-City Herald reported that the city of Kennewick is considering annexing the Tri-City Heights subdivision from Benton County. Tri-City Heights, a 305-acre ‘island’ of county property surrounded by the city, contains 710 parcels according to Christina Palmer, assistant director of support services, and it is the last remaining piece of a 2005 plan to annex these ‘islands’ by the city.
Most of the homes in the subdivision were built in the early 60s out in the middle of nowhere. Once Columbia Center Mall was built, Kennewick started annexing more and more land to the west. A number of subdivisions resisted the urge to merge and the city even went so far as to deny water to home buyers in these subdivisions unless they would sign a power of attorney allowing the city to vote for them in any annexation bid.
Now many of the original home owners have moved on and the new owners don’t really know what all the fuss was about. But they do hear horror stories from their neighbors about septic tanks failing and the cost to put in new ‘engineered’ systems because the city refuses to allow county residents to hook up to the sewer. Take away their right to vote and force the residents into an expensive septic system — and the city wonders why there is bad blood?
But what caught my attention was a news story on KEPR TV by Molly Kelleher about road conditions on a section of 4th Street in Kennewick between Union and Edison. The TV station got an email calling it “the worst roughest street” in the city and that no one will “lift a finger over this.” The station went out with its cameras and could see the reason for the ‘road rage’, there are noticeable potholes, cracks and bumps along the whole stretch. When I drive this section of road (about 4-5 times a week) I have always figured that the city was ignoring it just to get even with some ole curmudgeon who had given the city council guff in years past.
The city’s response is the reason I have a problem with annexation of Tri-City Heights, my neighborhood. They told the reporter that this road used to be Benton County land and now Kennewick promises to get the work done, or at least a bid, next year. But I went back trough the city council minutes and found that this property was annexed in July of 2000 — Eight! yes Eight! years ago. Why is the city trying to blame this on Benton County? If the city does not have enough money to maintain land they have already annexed, why would I want to have them annex any other property?