April 18, 2009 in Washington Voices

Museum restricts access to parking lot

Director says space being misused by customers of neighboring businesses
By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. BART RAYNIAK photo

Spokane Valley Heritage Museum volunteers Herman Meier, front, and Dylan Arnette, in red hat, guide a concrete block into place as Tommy Dunagan of Neil’s Welding and Repair lowers it to on the museum’s property line April 13.
(Full-size photo)

Tired of speeding drivers using her parking lot as a doorstep and people illegally parking in her lot, Spokane Valley Heritage Museum director Jayne Singleton took action this week, plunking down large concrete blocks to restrict access to the parking lot behind the museum.

The museum at 12114 E. Sprague Ave., sits next to a solid strip of buildings lining Sprague Avenue just west of Pines Road including Peters Hardware, Dave’s Bar and Grill and Ichabod’s Tavern.

All the businesses have parking in the back that is accessed by an alley that runs parallel to Sprague and empties onto Pines and Robie Road. The museum’s parking lot, shared with the hearing aid business next door, offered the only access to Sprague on the block and was treated as a street. “People have been speeding through here,” Singleton said.

The traffic hasn’t been the only issue. The hand-rail on the museum’s back porch has been hit and pulled out of the concrete three times. One recent evening, Singleton says she looked outside to see two men doing drugs on the back porch. Patrons of nearby businesses have also been parking in the museum’s spaces even though faded paint marks the spaces for museum parking only and a towing sign overlooks the lot.

“We’ve put fliers on cars,” she said. “I’ve explained numerous times. This is private property.”

The breaking point was the upcoming demolition project on the block that will knock down the buildings east of Dave’s Bar and Grill to build a new Rite Aid. When the project is done there will be new access to Sprague, but until then, Singleton was afraid that heavy equipment and trucks would also use her parking lot as a handy through street. “This is our school field trip season,” she said. “The concern is for safety. There are other access options.”

The museum’s back parking lot is now fully surrounded by concrete blocks, with openings on the south and north ends blocked by cables. “We’re in compliance with the permit department and the Fire Department,” she said. “The fire marshal came out.”

Singleton gave neighboring businesses a letter explaining her actions but the move hasn’t been well received by the patrons and owner of Ichabod’s, she said. There is a large amount of parking behind all the businesses, but the museum’s spaces are the closest to the tavern’s door.

Singleton said she has had to call the police twice this week, once when a man driving by said “I’ll get you for this” and again when three men began hassling her 16-year-old son. Her son was outside cleaning the concrete blocks when the men approached and began complaining about losing access to the parking spots. “They started running their mouth,” she said. “The guy flicked a cigarette at him.”

The men went inside Ichabod’s, she said, where they were contacted by police. Now SCOPE volunteers regularly patrol the area. Singleton said she hasn’t heard any complaints from other neighboring business owners. “No one else has mentioned anything.”

No one from Ichabod’s returned a phone call seeking comment.

Singleton is just hoping that the furor will die down and she can go back to focusing on Valley history. “Our intentions are to continue to create quality exhibits,” she said.

Nina Culver can be reached at (509) 927-2158 or via e-mail at ninac@spokesman.com.


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