Short on cash but long on heart, Spokane County commissioners Tuesday pledged their support for a sprawling Valley community center planned along the Spokane River.
The board committed one of its managers to help canvass businesses for the estimated $45,000 to build a wall honoring heroic or extraordinary children.
Fran Boxer, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, said she will begin immediately to help make the “honor wall” a reality.
“I’m thrilled the commissioners assigned me to work on it,” she said. “At a time when we hear mostly negative things about our youth, it’s time to support the positive things that happen every day.”
A band of Valley civic activists formed a non-profit group last year to create a $27 million cultural, recreational and educational complex on 70 acres formerly home to Walk in the Wild Zoo.
The site will feature a $5.4 million YMCA fitness center, $4 million outdoor ice rink and a community meeting place. The complex is dubbed Mirabeau Point.
Boxer said she hopes to expand the county’s involvement in the project by ultimately building a three-hole training golf course for kids.
She envisions the course being maintained by county parks workers and staffed by a teaching pro.
“We get a lot of requests from kids who want to play golf but have no place to go,” she said.
One of Mirabeau Point’s lead organizers, Valley insurance executive Denny Ashlock, foresees the massive wall going up right off the Centennial Trail on the south river bank.
The wall concept was the brainchild of Spokane County Sheriff’s Lt. Danny O’Dell, who wants a permanent venue for plaques honoring outstanding children.
Spokane architect Ron Tan is donating his time to design the wall in an undulating, artistic style, Ashlock said.
“Fifty years from now, somebody’s going to be able to bring their grandkids back and show them what they did to get on that wall,” he said.
Ashlock and other boosters believe Mirabeau Point will become the anchor for the Valley and the rallying point for community pride.
The ice rink is planned to open by the fall of 1997, while start of construction on the YMCA is scheduled by early 1998.
“The rest will follow,” Ashlock said. “If we’re going to keep kids out of trouble, it’s because we provide positive alternatives.”