Flanked by earthmovers and pickups, with the Riverfront Park gondolas gliding overhead, Scott Morris talked fondly Tuesday of the year 1889, city parks, Spokane and the company he runs, Avista.
“We, in a sense, grew up together,” Morris said to a gathering of about 50 people from the city and Avista. The energy company was founded almost 125 years ago, and Manito and Riverfront parks were created, in part, by cooperation between his company and the city.
And now there’s another partnership between the city and energy company, and it will end with more outdoor public space.
As Morris and Spokane Mayor David Condon climbed into two bulldozers and moved some dirt around, a new Huntington Park moved that much closer to realization. The four-acre park runs along the lower Spokane Falls on the south side of the river. Huntington and Riverfront parks will be connected by a plaza running between City Hall and the old Washington Water Power building.
The plaza and revitalized park will replace a “not particularly friendly access” to view “the roar, the mist and the beauty” of the falls, Morris said.
But when complete, Morris said, you will be able to stand on Post Street near City Hall and see the falls. Water features will grace the plaza and a new traffic-calming crosswalk will help pedestrians cross Post Street. Also, a new trail will encircle the old substation.
“Believe me, it’s going to be spectacular,” Morris said.
For his part, Condon said it was time to showcase “the falls we claim to be the cornerstone and logo of our city.”
He thanked the City Council members who gave up their parking spots for the plaza and lauded the effort to continue “the plan that the Olmsted Brothers laid out for us.”
After the brief ceremony, as congregants socialized in the shade, Condon said building the park was another step toward people speaking about something other than Expo ’74 when they talk about downtown parks.
“I’m sick of hearing about Expo,” Condon said jokingly.
Still, he’ll hear about a few more times. Next March, when the park is expected to officially open, is the 125th anniversary of Avista. It also happens to be the 40th anniversary of Expo. Expect a celebration.