Yakima City Council discusses the future of the Yakima Valley Tr - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima City Council discusses the future of the Yakima Valley Trolley System

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Yakima Valley Trolley (File Photo) Yakima Valley Trolley (File Photo)

Yakima, WA - Yakima City Council joined local community members to discuss the value of the Yakima Valley Trolley system. The remaining section of the railway for the historic trolley system that stretches from Yakima to Selah.  At a Tuesday morning meeting, city employees and the non-profit organization that operates the trolley presented the current conditions and potential of the system to members of the City Council.

The Yakima Valley Trolley system dates back 1907, and in 1900's the trolleys provided local transit services, and even helped transport local produce out of the area.  Today, the Trolley system is owned by the city and is run by a non-profit organization that operates and provides free trolley rides seasonally.

The system has not been renovated since 1956.  The trolley system holds a high historical value for the city, but without renovation the remaining trolley and railway infrastructure the system is put at risk.  Karl Pasten, Executive Director of Yakima Valley Trolley's and Sean Hawkins, Economic Development Manager for the City of Yakima presented the City Council with the current status and potential revenue possibilities that the Yakima Valley Trolley system could bring to the city, as it already has a big tourism draw for the community.

After the meeting, Pasten expressed his thoughts on how the meeting went, "I feel very positive about this meeting, because as you know we have a new city council, and it seems to me that people understand the value of the trolleys and what it can do for tourism and the quality of life here in Yakima," said Pasten.

Some of the needs presented to Yakima City Council involved, Trolley Car 1776, the main car used today for tours, which has had no major repairs or upgrades made to its electric engine system since 1976. Along with roadway repairs needed for the streets where the trolley travels through.  Like 6th Avenue from Chestnut Avenue all the way to its northern end point.

But the largest needed improvement, is estimated to cost about $83,000, to pave the Trolley Barn/museum parking lot and installing new lighting, both of which will be completed this spring. These improvements will take up the $100,000 included in the 2014 City Council budget.

Supporters of the trolley system say that if the city invested in the system it could produce benefits for the community, like more tourism, community pride, neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation.  On the other side of that, those benefits would not create enough revenue to alleviate any debt issued to fund refurbishment efforts.

The overall estimated cost to complete all necessary repairs to the Yakima to Selah line and to the two trolley cars is $8,850,402.

No decisions have been made on whether or not the city will invest in the trolley system, but the City Council says they do acknowledge the value of having the historic trolley system in the city.

"The takeaway that we want to see here is some action.  In meeting with the committee that is part of the trolleys and the non-profit organization with them, like I stated in the meeting they are not short of passion but maybe we can find out if there is a strategic plan or a plan of action to execute some of those things and maybe they could use some support and assistance in that as well," said Mayor Avina Gutiérrez.

For more in-depth details on the kinds of repairs the YV Trolley system needs, click here for the City of Yakima's meeting agenda and memorandum.