PADDLING — A state board in charge of money for recreational projects rejected a plea from supporters of a whitewater park in the Spokane River and refused to extend a $500,000 grant. The project will probably take longer than supporters say, and the city should return when more prep work has been done, the board said, according to a report by S-R Capital Bureau reporter Jim Camden in Olympia.
In a 6-1 vote, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board refused the extension but said the project should complete an environmental impact statement and obtain needed permits, then return to the board to ask for the grant to be awarded a second time.
“We at Friends of the Falls are disappointed,” said Steve Faust, leader of the Spokane group that's advocated the park. “But (we're) also encouraged that each RCO board member expressed support for the project and encouraged the city to apply for a new grant. We will be meeting with City Parks what happens next. We thank the City Parks Department for their efforts.”
Read on for more of Camden's report from the Olympia meeting.
Spokane City Parks Director Leroy Eadie said the next step will be to “go back and regroup” and try to find the $75,000 to $80,000 needed for the EIS. It might be possible to pay for that study with another grant obtained by Friends of the Falls.
“This is a little bump in the road. This project’s had a lot of bumps in the road,” Eadie said.
The project received $530,000 in June 2007, but has only spent $30,000 in that period. It is scheduled to prepare an EIS this summer to submit for permits in the fall or winter, start construction next summer and be open in the fall of 2012.
But board members said that’s a very optimistic agenda, because an EIS itself can take a year or more for a project that involves work inside a river. The proposed park would need to make some changes to the south bank of the river to create a wave.
“I like the enthusiasm. I like the vision,” said Larry Saunders, a board member. “I don’t believe the timeline is realistic.”