- City History
- 1970 to 2005
1970 to 2005
1970 to 1980
In 1970, Council approved $10 a month pay for the mayor.
The City's annual budget was $119,911. Elda Belcher retired in 1971 after 15 years as West Richland's water and utility clerk. She saw the city grow from 88 utility hookups to over 400.
Seventeen years after incorporation, West Richland got its first flagpole and flags in 1972. Douglas L Morton, age 13, organized the flag pole project as the last requirement for becoming an Eagle Scout. A third police officer was hired in 1977. To stretch limited funds, the Chief Police was also the Building Inspector and Public Works Supervisor.
In 1978, 12,000-year-old mammoth bones were found in a construction site on Ironton Drive. The area was a flood plain of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers. University of Washington archeologist Jim Martin also found the bones of rodents, frogs, birds, rabbits, and other small mammals. Once excavated by the UW team, the bones were sent to the University of Washington Burke Museum. Tapetal Elementary School was built in 1978. The original library opened this same year. The population in 1980 was 2,958. The police department purchased its first portable radios.
West Richland was the fastest-growing incorporated community in Washington in 1981. The population had increased by 242% since 1970 from 1,143 to 3,783.
1980 to 2000
The city purchased the former Elks golf course in 1982 for $170,000. In 1985, the State Transportation Commission approved the construction of a new four-lane bridge over the Yakima to replace the 62-year-old Fallon Bridge. The estimated cost for the new bridge was $5.5 million. The Ben Franklin Transit Center was opened by Flat Top Park in 1989. Widening Van Giesen was completed in 1993. A new bridge was built over the Yakima River. The old Fallon Bridge was lowered onto a barge and floated away. In 1996, a new library was built. The bright contemporary building houses the city council chambers and meeting room. This year, West Richland got its first D.A.R.E. officer.
Voters cast ballots for or against a change in the city's form of government at the November 1996 election. The city's current form of government is Mayor-Council. Some community members believed the city should have a council-manager form of government. Voters chose to keep the existing form of government by almost 2 to 1. West Richland had 3,652 registered voters.
For West Richland's horse lovers, a hitching post was installed behind the library in 1997.
For drivers, West Richland received a $1.1 million construction grant to improve Bombing Range Road from Austin to Chukar Drive. West Richland sponsored its first annual Harvest Festival in 1998. The family festival is known for its free kids' activities, great food, and interesting craft vendors. The 2004 festival attracted a record attendance of 10,000 visitors.
In 1998 construction began on Wiley Elementary School. West Richland's Chamber of Commerce began its resurgence this year with a new president and Executive Director. A farmers' market was opened at Flat Top Park in 1999. It operated for five years.
2000 to 2005
A pavilion was built at Flat Top Park in 2000. The project was supported by dozens of volunteers and contributors. Since its completion, the pavilion has been used for weddings, family reunions, picnics, and community gatherings. During this year a clubhouse and restrooms were built at Bombing Range Sports Complex.
The first annual Veterans' Day Parade rolled down Van Giesen in 2000. The parade is the first of its kind in this area.
The summer concert series, Concerts at the Pavilion, began in 2001. The free family concerts have grown in popularity. The fourth concert season, in 2004, attracted record crowds. More than 1,500 people attended the Fourth of July celebration with the Mid- Columbia Symphony and Richland Light Opera Singers.
The Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was hosted at Flat Top Park in November 2003. More than 50,000 visitors came to pay their respects at the memorial.
The city grew from 3,962 residents in 1991 to 9,840 in 2004. The city administration building and the police building were renovated in 2004. The original City Hall is now occupied by the West Richland Police Department. A new building was constructed for the Public Works and Community Development Departments. Construction of Enterprise Middle School began in 2004. The school will open in fall 2005.
The City of West Richland is known for the community events it sponsors each year. From summer concerts to the annual Harvest Festival, hundreds of people look forward to attending these family events. The fifth season of the summer concert series, Concerts at the Pavillion, featured six free concerts. Music ranged from jazz to steel drum bands to the popular Mid-Columbia Symphony Independence Day celebration to barbershop harmony. Hundreds of people enjoyed the varied music and an evening at the park with their families.
West Richland's Harvest Festival is held each September on the Saturday after Labor Day. This much-awaited festival is a day of old-fashioned family fun with abundant free children's activities, unique craft vendors, fabulous food, and music. The festival has grown from a small event attracting about 1,000 people in 1998 to a large celebration of over 10,000 people in 2004.
West Richland participates in the annual Earth Day Celebration by providing a clean-up day for its citizens. With the help of many volunteers and Ed's Disposal, the city's residents can dispose of their home and yard waste at no cost. Participation has increased each year. Hogs and Dogs brings hundreds of motorcycles and classic cars to West Richland. West Richland Chamber of Commerce coordinates this exciting event with the city. Hundreds of people admire the bikes and cars while eating hot dogs and listening to music.
The city and the West Richland Chamber of Commerce proudly host the annual Veterans Day Parade each November. Almost 100 organizations march down Van Giesen in honor of our veterans.
The final music program of the year rings in the holiday season. Caroling by Girl Scouts, the crisp sounds of handbells and a soothing Gospel trio are heard by enthusiastic and warmly dressed residents. Hot cocoa is served to make the evening complete.