August 1, 2007 in City

Making a list

By The Spokesman-Review
 

By the numbers

City officials are considering whether they should ask voters this fall to spend $78.4 million on pools and other park improvements. An additional $4 million has been held in reserve for Albi Stadium improvements. Here is a rundown on the $82.4 million proposal:

$22.5 million to replace or rehabilitate five existing pools.

$26.7 million for an indoor pool somewhere in the city.

$4.3 million to build a new outdoor pool near Joe Albi Stadium.

$3.5 million for 10 spray areas to replace the wading pools.

$11 million for park improvements north of Albi.

$3 million for youth baseball fields.

$11.4 million for a Riverfront Park promenade.

Spokane Park Board members hope there’s something for everybody in a $78.4 million list of projects they want to put before voters in November.

Some City Council members, however, question if there’s so much for everybody that not enough voters will support it. A bond issue requires 60 percent support from voters to pass.

On Monday, the City Council will consider whether to ask voters for the whole bill, split it into separate votes or make cuts from the list. A $78.4 million bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $50 a year, parks director Mike Stone said.

Even if the council cuts the list in half, parks officials said it would be the largest parks bond measure sent to voters in recent memory.

Last week, the Park Board unanimously recommended that the council ask voters for money that would:

“Rebuild the city’s five aging outdoor pools.

“Build a new outdoor pool near Albi Stadium to replace the closed Shadle Park pool.

“Construct 10 spray water features for most neighborhood parks that lost wading pools two years ago.

“Supplement money earned eight years ago from the sale of parkland to build a new softball complex, new soccer fields, a skateboard park and BMX track north of Albi.

“Create new baseball fields.

“Build an indoor aquatics center with two pools, a gymnasium and other amenities.

“Construct a promenade that could follow where Howard Street used to go through Riverfront Park to better connect the north and south sides of the river and create a gathering place for markets and other events.

Park Board member Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter said that although the price tag is high, it’s reasonable considering the benefits citizens would realize from the improvements.

“This is an opportunity to not only be practical, but visionary for the community,” Wheatley-Billeter said.

But City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin questioned whether voters would go for the entire list, especially since a couple items have remaining question marks. For instance, the parks department hasn’t decided where an indoor aquatics center should be built.

“It’s too much,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to have to pare it down.”

There appears to be eagerness from city leaders to rebuild the city’s existing five neighborhood pools. Other items on the list have varying levels of support.

A scientific telephone poll conducted in the spring by the parks department found that city residents were willing to pay higher taxes to renovate outdoor pools and build a new year-round indoor aquatics center, but support for an indoor pool fell if it was built at the expense of neighborhood pools.

Kelly Masjoan, a member of Citizens for Sensible Aquatics, said it would be better to focus a vote on pools, and that Riverfront Park and Joe Albi concerns would be better dealt with at another time.

“That just might push it over the edge,” she said.


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