Yakima is one step closer to finalizing plans for downtown

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Monday evening the city held its third and final public meeting to discuss their master plan for expanding the downtown area.

"As somebody who was born and raised here, I can't be more excited to see the enthusiasm of trying to refocus Yakima and develop the downtown," said Phil Cline, who lives in Yakima.

It's time for the city to move forward, and the design firms returned to present final concepts with more solid plans in place.

One big area of focus has Yakima Avenue down to just two lanes to allow for a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly area.

Front Street to Naches Avenue is suggested to be a 32 hundred square foot retail center with a green median placed in the center of Yakima Avenue.

The downtown Plaza will be the first major push in the project, which is now planned to be on the south side of downtown with a fountain and green area with trees.

"Who is our community, who lives in the downtown vicinity? Yes we want to attract more tourists to accompany the wine industry, to make it a family friendly, family oriented downtown area. A mercado would serve that purpose as a one stop shop," said one community member.

There were a variety of concerns for the planners to consider.

Everything from making sure there would be a public restroom in the plaza to wondering about bike racks.

Others voiced concern that many beautification projects have been started in the city before, but no one follows through with long term care and maintenance.

Local store owners questioned if they would have to conform to the new style of buildings proposed, but were told existing shops would stay the same.

The overall feel was optimistic as people look forward to enjoying the new space.

"It's people, that's what we need most downtown. I'd like to see it where we can walk the streets and see our friends and see the activities, the pedestrian situation, the mall, the grass landscaping," said Phil Cline.

The plaza is the first item on the list, which designers hope to have completed in the next five years.