West Richland's Yakima River-front getting some much needed impr - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

West Richland's Yakima River-front getting some much needed improvements

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WEST RICHLAND, WA - For so many of us, a nice and lazy float down the Yakima River is a perfect summer pastime. However, for people who live in West Richland at the start and end points, it's been a long battle to keep the riverfront clean. Now, the city of West Richland is stepping up with some exciting new plans.

"There's people out here that are like really on patrol. Like they will notice everything," said riverfront resident Monica Sabala.

Down on the banks of the Yakima River, right over the Van Giesen Street Bridge there is a neighborhood at odds with the droves of people who come out to cool off in the Yakima. 

"Definitely want people to enjoy the river. We want to enjoy the river. How it was before was not enjoyable. There were really no facilities, no restrooms, no parking," said neighbor Melanee Johnson.

Melanee has fought that battle for years. She said on a hot summer's day, the area would be packed.

"People would leave their garbage, they would urinate in public. They had no respect at all," said Johnson.

Over the last year, things have gotten better. But it's still not perfect.

"Even though you're not using your parking space, you just never know. If you need a truck or whatever and somebody's there... try finding them out here on the river," said Sabala.

Now a solution; a multi-million dollar project nearly fully paid for by grants. It includes a 52-space parking lot, stairs, access points under the bridge for swimmers and non-motorized boaters, restrooms and a path that will go all the way to the West Richland Golf Course. This will all be run by the city. 

"The residents right here are all very happy. Obviously there's been a need for a park. There are no parks down here," said Johnson.

Construction is expected to begin this summer.