In/Around: West Central
Bob Lipe has a vision of a drop-in center for teenagers. It would have a pool table, pinball machines, pingpong, a boxing ring, music and dancing.
Teens would serve on a governing board and make decisions about rules and regulations.
Adult volunteers would supervise the operation and give boxing lessons. Police would stop by to visit. Kids would have a safe haven off the street.
Lipe wants to build the teen center on property he owns on West Boone, just west of Belt Street, in the West Central neighborhood.
His vision for the center faces its first obstacle next week: a public hearing on Tuesday by the city hearing examiner.
Lipe, 64, who donated the building that houses COPS-West, wants to dedicate the teen center to his late wife, Donna Marie Lipe, who died of cancer in January 1994 at the age of 62.
“You can’t wait for government to do it. Government will never do it,” said Lipe, who said he is willing to spend at least $50,000 of this own money to build the teen center.
An Illinois native who came to Spokane after serving in the military, Lipe started out selling gasoline. His businesses slowly evolved into smallscale, neighborhood grocery operations. He now has three Sure Save stores on Spokane’s North Side, and his business cards brag, “The Biggest Little Stores In The World.”.
Lipe and his late wife, an advertising executive who did volunteer work for such organizations as Big Brothers, the YWCA, and the American Cancer Society, talked about opening a teen center after seeing kids hang out in front of their stores.
“We have teens with nothing to do but hang out in the parking lot,” Lipe said.
The teen center would be built on part of what is now the parking lot for Lipe’s Boone Avenue store.
A house that Lipe owns and rents out also sits on the site proposed for the center. The house would be torn down or moved.
Lipe has talked with neighbors and thinks there is support for a teen center. He doesn’t intend to compete with the West Central Community Center but thinks “at-risk” kids prefer their own place with a less structured environment.
He foresees as many as 40 teens a night using the drop-in center, which would be open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., and longer on weekends. If need be, Lipe said, he would hire a staff member.
He said he would finance construction of the center, but Lipe hopes donations and community volunteers would help keep the notfor-profit facility operating.
The hearing on Tuesday, which starts at 9 a.m. at City Hall, is for a special permit.
Among the items to be considered is parking. City ordinances would require the 4,000 square-foot building to provide 40 parking spaces.
He doesn’t anticipate the need for that many, saying most of the teens the drop-in center would serve live within walking distance of it or are too young to drive.
City planner Steve Haynes said that issue would be within the discretion of the hearing examiner to decide.
The hearing Tuesday will not address the licensing requirements for a teen center. Under a 1989 city ordinance, Lipe would be required to apply for a $300 yearly license, retain security personnel, liability insurance, and maintain strict entry and exit policies.
The ordinance stipulates that the chief of police would hold a hearing and determine if Lipe could comply with the law. If so, a license would be granted.
So far there has been no opposition to the plans from neighbors.
“I haven’t heard a peep,” said Haynes. “Maybe they’ll all show up next week.”
MEMO: This is a sidebar that appeared with the story: Hearing set Bob Lipe will present his proposal for a teen center in the West Central neighborhood to the city hearing examiner next week. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 250 at City Hall.