Spokane’s legal crusader made good this week on his promise to sue the city for failing to open the skywalk over Post Street between Riverside and Main avenues.
Stephen Eugster filed a lawsuit in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday demanding the skywalk immediately be opened or taken down.
“I’m forcing (the city) to take action,” Eugster said. “If they resist it, they will simply be wasting public money in an effort to prevent the public’s access.”
Eugster, president and founder of the citizens watchdog group Spokane Research & Defense Fund, has fought the city over everything from a proposed Lincoln Street Bridge to an unsightly billboard at 29th and Hatch.
Two months ago, he began pressing the city to force the reopening of the skywalk linking Goodale & Barbieri’s newly opened Crescent Court to the Burlington Coat Factory. Lying between the Crescent Court and the skywalk is a third building, the Crescent Addition, which is owned by Robert Paterson.
A wall recently built between Crescent Court and the addition keeps people from using the Post Street skywalk and getting to the Burlington store.
“The essential question here is: What is right and what is wrong?” Eugster said. “Is it a public system or a private system?”
But the wall could be taken down before Eugster gets a chance to meet the city in court.
Stan Schwartz, an assistant city attorney, said Paterson and Goodale & Barbieri have reached an agreement and plan to open the skywalk soon.
“It’s just a matter of time before they read and sign the paper,” Schwartz said.
“The city’s attorney is absolutely correct,” said Richard Barbieri, attorney for Goodale & Barbieri. “I can attribute no good motive to anyone filing a lawsuit.”
Eugster, however, isn’t ready to take their word for it. He’s heard that song before about the skywalk opening soon, he said, and it just “keeps on going and going and going.”
Eugster argues that because the skywalks intrude into public airspace, the public has a right to access.
Mayor Jack Geraghty said he thinks a “little patience is in order here, considering it has to do with real estate and access and all that. I hope they reach an agreement shortly.”