News Column

Richland Public Facilities District looks toward future of Reach center

August 15, 2014

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Aug. 15--The Reach center just debuted, but officials already are working on plans for the future.

The board of the Richland Public Facilities District -- which developed and oversees the hybrid museum, interpretive center and performing arts venue -- spent more than an hour Thursday night discussing possible growth and expansion plans.

Those possibilities range from converting the 10,000-square-foot unfinished basement into a work-based learning and education lab and small-business incubator, to adding onto Gallery 1 to tell the more complete story of the Hanford nuclear site.

Lisa Toomey, Reach CEO, said staffers have been hearing from the public about features they want to see at the facility, which sits at the west end of Columbia Park in Richland.

When the center was under development, the community had specific feelings about what it should be, she said.

"This isn't really unlike that. We want to have a longer-term vision; we want to have that vision reflect what the community is telling us they want," she said.

The public facilities district board wasn't yet ready Thursday to endorse a multi-phased growth plan, but agreed to ask the architect to do some programming and perhaps conceptual design work focused on the basement.

The board will vote to approve a change order for the architect's work later this month.

A basement learning lab could include a demonstration and training kitchen, plus space for events and classes, vendors and visitor food service.

Officials have envisioned using the space to hold Hanford artifacts from the Department of Energy, but the process to make that happen has moved slowly and unpredictably, they have said.

"We need to be moving forward on the future phase, because we promised the community that we would build something -- it would be limited and expandable, and we would push hard to expand it as we could, as soon as we had established sustainability of what we had," said Fred Raab, board president.

The Reach center celebrated its grand opening at the beginning of July with a series of ceremonies and events.

The facility has a 14,000-square-foot main level. Gallery 1 holds a permanent exhibit telling the story of the Hanford Reach National Monument and surrounding land through time, while Gallery 2 has an exhibit on the Manhattan Project and the Hanford site's early days.

The center also has a range of other indoor features, from an agriculture exhibit to an aquarium.

It also has an outdoor theater that's been the site of concerts and a popular run of The Sound of Music, plus other outdoor offerings.

-- Online:

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529;; Twitter: @saraTCHerald


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Source: Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA)

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