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Thu., March 11, 2010, 9:50 p.m.

Direction on YMCA becoming more uncertain

This photo, likely taken in the 1910s, shows the Howard Street bridge and the future site of the downtown YMCA in Spokane. Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane. (Courtesy of Museum of Arts and Culture)
This photo, likely taken in the 1910s, shows the Howard Street bridge and the future site of the downtown YMCA in Spokane. Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane. (Courtesy of Museum of Arts and Culture)

(First, because it's not from our newspaper archives, I should start with information about the photo: It shows the Howard Street bridge and Havermale and Canada islands, sometime before 1927. There is vacant land southwest of the bridge where the downtown YMCA would be built in the mid-1960s. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane.)

It looks like March 22 will be the date the public will get to weigh in on the future of the Riverfront Park YMCA.

City Council President Joe Shogan announced that a public hearing will be scheduled for that date, though he added it could be delayed until March 29.

Councilman Steve Corker, who said earlier this week that it appeared that a majority of the council did not support the acceptance of Spokane County's offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to acquire the Riverfront Park YMCA, now says an outcome is unclear.

"It's going to be one of those votes where we won't know where it stands until the vote is taken on the dias," Corker said after a Thursday meeting between the council and Park Board. "I wouldn't put a dollar on the table."

County Commissioners have demanded that the Spokane City Council tell them by the end of this month if the city will accept its offer use Conservation Future money.

If the city doesn't accept the offer, officials will have to find another way to cover its $4.4 million debt on the building. Officials have suggested that options could include selling park land or raising hotel or property taxes.

The meeting today between the council and Park Board didn't reveal much new information. Besides a heated moment between Park Board member Larry Stanley and City Councilman Jon Snyder, the two sides generally made their points without generating much friction.

It was clear in the meeting that the Park Board remains unanimous and passionate in its opinion that the YMCA should be torn down and that Conservation Futures is the best option to reach that goal. Most on the City Council have said they don't like the idea of using Conservation Futures money to buy the Y, though some, such as Corker, say they're willing to consider it.




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Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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