Looking for answers on Rachel Road extension

RICHLAND, Wash. - Now that Richland has decided to move forward with the Rachel Road extension we wanted to get a bit of the thought process behind that decision.

No one wanted to talk about it. Those you elected into office were nowhere to be found when it came time to explaining their reason for a yes or no vote.

Sheila Sullivan was a Richland City Council Member back when the idea of extending Rachel Road first came up.

She said, "It was voted down at the time. Maybe we were more sensible, or sensitive I should say, to the feelings of the people."

Sheila was at the city council meeting where Richland leaders would decide if the road would be extended across the Amon Preserve, just east of Leslie Road. She watched resident after resident speak against the extension, and felt like the hours of testimony fell on deaf ears.

"They were making the decisions, to hell with the public, and that is just the opposite of what we voted in," she said.

The decision was abrupt. There was no discussion before a vote was taken and it came in favor of extending Rachel Road.

The crowd was disappointed. Knowing these are the elected representatives for this crowd, we wanted to get answers for their constituents. We hoped to learn their reasoning for a favorable vote. We were shut down at nearly every turn.

We couldn't talk to the council members in favor of the project they were already out of town and Mayor David Rose declined an interview saying he said all he had to say to our reporter at the council meeting. There was only one council member willing to answer our questions.

That council member wasn't even at the meeting. Gregory Jones is on assignment with DOE out of state. He watched the meeting online.

We asked, "Did most of the council members have their minds made up prior to the vote?"

Jones said, "I would say they had a good idea. There wasn't any new information provided as a result of the public meeting that would have caused additional discussion by council."

We weren't able to even get a single answer why any of the council members cast the vote they did.

We called 4 council members and emailed 3.
After not hearing from anyone for at least an hour, we contacted the city's communications director for help. She made calls on my behalf but also came up short.

Gregory said, "It sounds like, looks like that we are simply ignoring the public sentiment and we are not."

The mayor would only insist after the meeting that this issue is not a done deal.
Sheila sure hopes so.

"This issue is not going to die. Those people are determined," she said.