The owners of Cavanaugh’s River Inn recently opened an 8-foot gravel trail at the motel despite an agreement with the city last year to build a 10-foot “hard-surfaced” trail.
The new Spokane River trail provides the final link in a north bank loop from Riverfront Park across the Gonzaga University campus.
A spokesman for the hotel on Monday said Cavanaugh’s is not under any legal obligation to build a 10-foot trail.
The 8-foot gravel trail is consistent with the hotel’s desire to have a pedestrian-only pathway, said Richard Barbieri, attorney for Goodale & Barbieri Cos.
G&B; owns Cavanaugh’s.
“We have provided the public with just a wonderful enhancement to their access,” Barbieri said.
City officials have another view.
The 8-foot gravel trail “does not match the agreement we have,” said Irving Reed, manager of planning and engineering for the city.
The agreement is outlined in a May 18, 1994, letter to the city and a shoreline development permit signed by Reed last September.
Reed said the city may have to enforce the agreement, but he was uncertain what action, if any, would be taken.
The trail is paved and 12 feet wide on both sides of Cavanaugh’s property.
Cavanaugh’s built an 8-foot boardwalk at the west end of the hotel to carry the trail down a steep embankment to a 12-foot underpass at the Division Street bridge.
From the boardwalk to the east, the gravel path meanders along the riverbank. Nearly $200,000 went into the improvements, including landscaping and benches, Barbieri said.
But a member of the Friends of the Centennial Trail board said he is concerned.
“It appears they have not followed the agreement we made,” said Greg Bever, former president of the trail board.
Bever said the gravel surface is not considered accessible to the handicapped under federal law.
Barbieri said the gravel surface will be given a chance to pack down, and if it is not suitable for the handicapped, it could be paved later.
In a May 18, 1994 letter outlining the trail agreement, Donald Barbieri, president of G&B;, said the trail “will be hard-surfaced and primarily 10 feet in width from Division Street to the Don Kardong Bridge-Centennial Trail intersection.”
The intersection with the Centennial Trail is at the southeast end of the GU campus.
Barbieri said Gonzaga’s subsequent decision to build a wider, 12-foot loop trail means the agreement no longer is in force, because Gonzaga was included in the agreement.
Kathy Darrar, horticulture manager for G&B;, said the crushed gravel was placed over a base of sand and is expected to compress into a hard surface. Once that happens, the trail should be usable by people in wheelchairs, she said.
The hotel’s owners said they do not want their guests and other trail users to be endangered by bicyclists and roller-skaters.
As a result, the only wheels permitted on the trail at Cavanaugh’s are strollers and wheelchairs. Gonzaga also prohibits bikes and skaters on its section of the loop route to the east.
The city tried to use its authority under the shoreline management law to force G&B; to build a wider trail.
Barbieri said the meandering 8-foot path complies with the original shoreline permit issued for the hotel in the mid-1970s.
Last Sept. 19, the city issued an addendum to the shoreline permit approving construction of the boardwalk and a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail, but Barbieri said that permit applies only to the boardwalk and the approach to it.