CHENEY – Residents here decried a proposed increase in new sewer hook-up fees, some saying raising the fee from about $800 to $4,830 per single-family home will keep developers away.
“A jump of this magnitude – I feel it’s imprudent at this time,” one real estate agent told the City Council at its meeting last week.
The Public Works Department is recommending that the council raise the rates so they are more consistent with rates in cities around Spokane County, but residents felt it would be too high an increase at one time.
Local developer Steve Emtman suggested the council look at ways to implement the increase gradually.
Emtman said he understood the reasoning behind the rate increase but argued that such a jump now would hurt the area.
“It probably should have been raised five, 10 years ago, and now we’re being punished,” he said.
The council decided that city staff should look at alternatives to the rate increase and agreed to hear those ideas at its next regular meeting March 11.
– Lisa Leinberger
Spirit Lake booming
SPIRIT LAKE – Marilyn Smith is thankful she can finally buy a book without having to make the more than 50-mile round-trip drive into Coeur d’Alene.
On a recent afternoon, Smith was visiting Spirit Lake Books & Coffee to catch up with owners John and Terri Zucker.
“This place is unbelievable for me because I’m such a book nut,” said Smith, who lives just outside town. “It’s wonderful in light of gas prices.”
Just seven months old, Spirit Lake Books & Coffee has become a gathering place for locals who pop in to browse the shelves of used books, buy a latte or munch on one of Terri Zucker’s fresh-baked pastries. The coffee shop is at the center of a blossoming commercial district at the south end of town on Highway 41 and a larger Spirit Lake business renaissance with a flurry of new retail openings. The town now boasts new restaurants, shops and its first bank. Other existing businesses have undergone major renovations.
“It’s the times catching up to Spirit Lake,” said Tom Russell, chairman of the town’s Urban Renewal Agency and a member of its Planning and Zoning Commission. “All the growth in Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene is moving up here.”
The business surge was made possible by Spirit Lake’s burgeoning population which has grown from 1,376 people in 2000 to 1,621 people in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And that’s just within the city limits.
“There’s a lot of growth around the city, too,” Russell said, citing development along the lake and over the county line in Bonner County.
– Amy Cannata
Library up to voters
University High School students Corey Bowerson and Anthony Veilleux liked what they saw last week at an open house meeting on a proposal to build a bigger, better Spokane Valley Library.
“Whoa, that’s close to where I live,” Veilleux said of the new 58,600-square-foot library at what is now the University City shopping center.
The new library would have more than twice as much space as the existing library at 12004 E. Main Ave.
The proposed $24.9 million structure also would add more than 30 computers as well as an auditorium, more room for children and youth reading areas, more parking and 52,000 additional books, discs, audio books and other materials.
The meeting was the last of three in which Spokane County Library District officials provided information about two March 11 ballot measures.
The proposals would improve library service in Spokane Valley, Millwood and surrounding unincorporated areas in a two-step process.
First, more than half of the affected voters would have to agree to create the proposed Greater Spokane Valley Library Capital Facility Area. Then at least 60 percent of them would have to approve a $33.4 million bond measure.
In addition to a new Spokane Valley branch, the bond measure would provide a 2,000-square-foot expansion of the Argonne branch at 4322 N. Argonne Road and a new, 15,000-square-foot library on Conklin Road, just south of Sprague Avenue.
– John Craig
Library’s history alive
Marsha Naegeli is a woman who knows how to make a statement.
The owner of Naegeli Reporting at 25 S. Altamont St., Naegeli has turned east Spokane’s former branch library into an elegant office space that goes way beyond its original Spartan look.
The brick landmark near Interstate 90 stands as a reminder of the proud history of this working-class neighborhood.
“I love yesteryear, the grandeur of yesterday,” Naegeli said in an interview via a teleconference hookup inside the branch office.
Naegeli, of Portland, bought the building in 2006 and spent $300,000 to renovate and restore it. Much of the work was done on the interior where richly colored woodwork and walls offer an Italian Renaissance style complemented by dramatic light fixtures, artwork and other fine furnishings.
Built in 1913, the library was the second of four Spokane libraries funded through the philanthropy of industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The East Side Carnegie was used by the city until 1979, when the branch was moved to the East Central Community Center. The building was turned into office space. The neoclassical-influenced structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and the Spokane Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Naegeli is based in Portland and operates branches in Seattle and Boise as well as Spokane. She provides work for about 120 people, including 60 court reporters who work on contract. In addition to offering court reporting services to law firms, Naegeli’s company also offers space for private teleconferencing.