City Councilman Mike Brewer may have found a legacy in Spokane’s falls.
The departing Brewer wants to put a charter amendment before voters in November aimed at changing the city’s name to Spokane Falls.
“It goes back to our roots and heritage,” said Brewer, who isn’t running for re-election after eight years on the council. “I’d like to at least give people a choice. … It’s my legacy.”
Brewer’s push to return the city to the name of its birth has met with mixed reactions from his colleagues.
Mayor Jack Geraghty is openly hostile to the suggestion, saying he thinks changing the city’s name would need widespread community debate. There’s not enough time for that between now and November, he said.
“I just think … it’s something we should spend a lot more time talking about,” Geraghty said. “If Mr. Brewer wants to bring it before the council, that’s fine.” If the proposal makes the ballot, he said, “I’ll go cast my vote like every other citizen.”
Councilwoman Phyllis Holmes favors putting the charter amendment before voters in November. “There’s a lot of interest out there,” said Holmes, adding she witnessed a city name change when she lived in California. “It wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like a root canal.”
Councilman Jeff Colliton isn’t sure how he’ll vote when the issue comes before the council. He’s concerned about the cost of changing the city’s name.
“It’s not just letterheads, but maps, airlines …” Colliton said.
Brewer has a counter to every concern. He dismisses Geraghty’s claim there won’t be enough debate, saying the only way to get people talking about the issue is to put it on the ballot.
As for cost, the ordinance doesn’t force compliance, Brewer said. Documents can be changed as their supplies run low or wear out.
Julian Powers, an opponent of the Lincoln Street bridge, wondered aloud during Monday’s meeting how the council could consider changing the city’s name and building the bridge simultaneously.
Brewer doesn’t see the conflict. While he worries about the bridge design, he supports its construction. In fact, the structure likely will increase access to the falls, he said.
Brewer said he grew fond of changing the name after Nate Grossman, an ardent falls fan, approached him about the idea.
Grossman, a former city resident who now lives in the Valley, fell for the proposal after reading a column in The Spokesman-Review. After watching the raging falls last May, columnist Doug Clark suggested reversing an 1891 decision by the city’s fathers to drop the Falls from Spokane.
Grossman, who sits on the Spokane Tourism and Convention Board, rattles off a number of reasons changing the name would be a boon for Spokane.
The falls have great historical significance for Native Americans and the city’s founders, he said. Besides, Spokane’s rushing waters could be a great marketing tool.
“No other downtown in North America has a river with waterfalls running right through it,” Grossman said. “We need to advertise the fact that Spokane does.
“The idea is that if we restore the name of the city to Spokane Falls, the world should beat a path to our doorstep.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo