Port of Walla Walla aims to link with Pasco to boost Burbank Business Park

The Pasco City Council wants to ensure Burbank's park wouldn't compete with them.

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BURBANK -- As the Port of Walla Walla looks across the river for wastewater treatment services for its proposed Burbank Business Park the agency must address a small wave of concerns that arose this week from the Pasco City Council

Among them: Will supplying sewer treatment to Burbank bolster that community as a destination for business development and ultimately create competition for Pasco? And, what kind of payment should the city receive from the Port if it does agree to move forward?

Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Jim Kuntz believes the two government entities will be able to reach an agreement, but any plan to move forward likely won't garner the full support of the Pasco City Council, he said during the Port commission meeting Thursday afternoon.

What the Port envisions is a groundbreaking multijurisdictional partnership for sewer treatment from Pasco. Port officials say the cost of installing a $2.1 million pipeline under the Snake River and connecting to Pasco's system is a more cost-effective alternative than building a treatment plant at an estimated $6 million.

The Port would pay a $750,000 sign-on fee. The monthly rate for use would be the same as city of Pasco users are charged. But the Port has also proposed to pay $2,000 a month in lieu of taxes. Port officials believe savings would also come in the long-term operating costs. Pasco has certified employees who already run that municipality's wastewater facilities.

Kuntz, who attended Monday's Pasco council meeting with Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller, said he believes Pasco officials may ask for more than $2,000 a month. As for concerns about creating competition by supplying services to Burbank he said the park would not be in a position to compete for heavy industrial tenants.

The 120-acre business park is zoned for commercial and light manufacturing, he said. The blend of tenants envisioned for the land -- adjacent to U.S. Highway 12, two barge slips and rail served by BNSF Railroad -- includes a fast food operation, bank, grocery store and the like sprinkled with warehouse and distribution operations along with existing tenants. "This will really develop as more of a commercial business park," Kuntz said.

He said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield has asked Kuntz to put that intention in writing before the issue is revisited.

A sewer system is the latest piece in the development of the multiphased Burbank Business Park, which has a new water system. Port officials are postponing design of the wastewater portion while they discuss details with the city of Pasco.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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