Trading TRAC for Aquatics Facility Could Have Major Impact on Ag Industry

PASCO -- The efforts continue moving forward to bring a water park to the Tri Cities.

The current goal is to put it at the TRAC in Pasco. But Action News found one group who says losing the TRAC would be deliver a major blow to one of the biggest industries in the entire area.

Kathleen Bauermeister visits the TRAC 5-10 times a year. It's almost always for ag shows or other farming events with the local Cattlemen's Association. She says losing the facility will mean a big loss for that entire industry.

"There just isn't another facility around here, even in Hermiston. You'd have to go all the way to Yakima for something that could hold these events year-round."

Talks are now underway between Franklin County, which currently runs the facility, and the Regional Public Facilities District. It's proposing a 1/10th percent sales tax increase to turn the TRAC into an aquatics center, complete with slides, and competition-sized pool.

It's estimated TRAC is currently losing about $400,000 a year.

Franklin County also still owes $3 million in bond debt, from when the TRAC was first built. And Commissioners tell KEPR any kind of property sale will need to at least cover that.

Chairman Brad Peck also hopes additional proceeds could be used to build a different facility, saying the County still wants to provide a suitable ag facility.

But Bauermeister believes the county should expand the TRAC.

"Agriculture helps run this county. It helps run much of this state!"

Commissioners are now looking to bring in an independent appraiser, to get a current value for the TRAC property. They tell Action News they are interested in getting out of the business of running it, but only if it's in the best interest of the Franklin County taxpayers.