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Valley mayor highlights projects

Thu., April 12, 2007

Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite offered another upbeat account of the city’s recent accomplishments in her annual State of the City address Wednesday, highlighting plans for two new parks, a city center and other projects.

“We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.

City departments continue to re-evaluate their processes to make things run more smoothly, Wilhite said.

In another banner year for housing construction in the state’s seventh-largest city, the building and planning departments handled 232 land-use actions and conducted 12,870 building inspections last year, she said.

In addition to day-to-day city business, the council’s goals for 2006 included plans to redevelop Sprague Avenue, organize the city’s 2 tons of records and maintain streets.

A study on street maintenance should be finished by the end of June, and urban-design consultants are scheduled to present their final recommendations for Sprague in May.

“To succeed we have to have a plan,” for Sprague, Wilhite said.

Developing a city center east of University City Mall and turning Sprague and Appleway into two-way streets are among the consultants’ recommendations.

Recent developments in Olympia should make this a busy year for the parks department. With a state grant likely, Wilhite said, the city is preparing to buy land in the Greenacres neighborhood for a new park.

A playground for disabled children at Mirabeau Point that was the city’s top legislative priority this year also looks like it will receive state funding.

“Hopefully, by summer we will be able to start the process for final design,” she said.

An architecture firm is designing water features and amenities for all three Valley pools.

The receptive audience of about 100 at the Mirabeau Park Hotel included business leaders, the City Council, and other elected officials.

“Hearing all of that in the same place, I’m amazed at the amount that got done,” Councilman Bill Gothmann said after the speech.

While the Sprague study was probably the most exciting thing mentioned, Gothmann said, he believes the most important thing has been negotiations to reduce pollutants in the Spokane River and build a new sewage treatment plant.

In addition to the sewer issues and parks, Planning Commission Chairwoman Gail Kogle said she appreciated the mayor’s mention of work that has gone into the city’s new development code.

The commission and the council continue to ask for the public’s insight into the code and the Sprague study, she said. “Keep asking us questions. Keep telling us what you want,” Kogle said.

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