Our Voice: West Richland -- Whatever the name, it's called home

February 20, 2014 

Changing a name for a person is difficult. Just ask a married -- or divorced -- woman.

Changing the name for a city is difficult and expensive. But, as in the case of a marriage, it sometimes is necessary to establish, or re-establish, an identity. Hundreds of cities around the world have done it, including Moses Lake and Spokane.

From time to time during the past several decades, West Richland has considered changing its name to more clearly define what it is, or better, what it is not -- an extension of Richland.

We agree with the findings of the most recent committee that has been considering a name change. 1. It probably is a good idea. 2. Now isn't the time to do it.

In fact, we're a little surprised it took the committee 11 months to come to this conclusion. We also are a little surprised that it wasn't on the agenda for the council meeting so that interested citizens could have attended the meeting and provided their input -- but that's another story.

If now isn't a good time to spend taxpayer money on a name change, when is a good time for that? Cities everywhere seem perpetually cash strapped and focused on immediate needs.

And although the issue doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, it's been interesting to see reactions to this latest study. Most of the rumble we've heard is that the city ought to concentrate on matters at hand. One comment on tricityherald.com suggested splitting West Richland into two different cities: one lowland and one highland. This is the first time we've heard that particular argument.

And even among those who are not interested in changing the name of the city, it's pretty easy to toss out suggestions. Here are just a few that have caught out attention: East Benton City, Mayberry or Vineyard.

A few years back, the West Richland Chamber of Commerce made a semi-serious run at changing the city's name to Red Mountain. They asked the council to put it to a city vote. It never got legs.

To be sure, West Richland is its own place, and it would be fun to put serious effort into coming up with a name that captures its personality.

On the other hand, being associated with Richland is nothing to be ashamed of.

A bigger problem that affects West Richland is the Tri-Cities, an unofficial moniker for Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.

Although West Richland holds its own in the Mid-Columbia, we don't see the phrase Quad-Cities catching on anytime soon.

So even if West Richland comes up with a perfect name and is somehow able to garner community support and provide the financial means to make all the changes, whatever the new name is still will not be one of the Tri-Cities.

There might come a time when West Richland has a clear and compelling reason to change its name. It's something to consider down the road.

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