April 2, 2009 in Washington Voices

Havana bridge topic of Council discussion

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Representatives from the city of Spokane visited the Spokane Valley City Council meeting Tuesday to request help with a bridge planned on Havana Street.

The work is part of the “Bridging the Valley” effort and will create an overpass over several railroad tracks that cross Havana Street north of Broadway Avenue. John Mercer of Spokane’s capital projects department said that 7,400 vehicles a day use Havana south of Broadway, but that number drops to 700 a day north of Broadway. “That street is blocked by trains about 17 hours a day,” he said.

Some of the right-of-way land needed for the project is inside Spokane Valley city boundaries and Spokane wants the city’s permission to condemn the land so it can be used for the bridge. Spokane is in negotiations with the property owner, but needs to move ahead with the condemnation procedure in case the negotiations aren’t successful.

“We need you folks to partner with us,” said Spokane attorney James Richmond.

Mayor Rich Munson made the point that Spokane would be condemning the land, not Spokane Valley. “We’ll leave that up to you,” he said.

No vote was taken Tuesday, but the council seemed receptive to the idea. The agreement with Spokane will come before the council for a formal vote later in the month. “If it’s as successful as the Argonne underpass, it’s going to be a huge, huge benefit to the Valley,” Munson said.

In other business, council members heard a presentation from Lew Leigh of Washington Cities Insurance Authority about what powers they do and do not have.

As an example he said that council members shouldn’t take a role in hiring and firing decisions for city staff. “Let the city manager handle that headache,” Leigh said. “The moral of the story is, don’t help.”

Leigh gave several examples of council members gone astray in other parts of the state, including a group that violated public meeting laws in their attempts to non-renew a city manager’s contract and another that leaked information about an executive session.

The council also heard a report on Comprehensive Plan amendments that will be before the council later in the month. The proposed amendments address zoning changes for several parcels, bike lanes and update the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan.

Reach staff writer Nina Culver at (509) 927-2158 or by e-mail at ninc@spokesman.com.

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