July 30, 2009 in Washington Voices

Park bond will go to voters

$6 million project to include community center
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Coming up

Supporters of the park bond issue will hold an organizational meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m., at Cheney Middle School.

Voters in Cheney will decide this fall whether to approve a $5 million bond to build phase one of a new 50-acre park, which includes a community center.

The Cheney City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the bond on the November ballot.

The project, expected to cost $6 million, will be funded with $1 million from the city’s insurance payment from last winter’s roof collapse of the Wren Pierson Building and with funds from real estate excise taxes. If approved, residents will pay $10 a month for $150,000 of assessed property value.

Paul Simmons, director of Cheney Parks and Recreation, said the city’s loss of Wren Pierson left several programs and groups displaced or disbanded. The museum, the senior club, Cheney Outreach, the food and clothing banks and other groups have scrambled to find temporary locations.

“There’s a lot of folks that are struggling to keep their doors open,” Simmons said.

The department has been receiving feedback about the proposed project, which includes the community center, dog park, softball and youth baseball fields, walking trails, a playground and two soccer fields on the city’s north end at Betz and Washington.

Those in favor of the bond feel that the city has immediate need for the new facility. They want to move forward as a community and not backward. They said that when the Wren Pierson Building was fully functional, it had limited space for the many programs it housed. Housing has increased in the park’s neighborhood and there is need for a teen center close to the middle school and a new senior center.

Opponents said they have concerns about visitors to the park crossing Betz Road. Simmons said there are several options to solve this problem such as a pedestrian bridge crossing, an undercrossing, a pedestrian signal and surface crossing. Simmons said that had Spokane had such concerns about pedestrians crossing Grand Boulevard, there would be no Manito Park today.

“This is something we are seriously addressing,” he said.

Another concern opponents had was there is no pool included in phase one. Simmons said that the current pool’s life has been extended by five years and there are now hundreds of people using it every day. There really hasn’t been a clear direction residents wanted to take with the new pool, whether it should be a lap pool, an aquatics center, indoor or outdoor.

Simmons also said that there isn’t enough funding yet without a partner such as the county to build the pool, but getting the infrastructure built during phase one will be a draw for potential partners.

“Yes, it’s a need and yes we’ll continue to plan for it,” Simmons said.

Simmons said that if the bond fails, the city will probably rebuild the Wren Pierson Building.

“It’s in the public’s hands now,” said Mayor Allen Gainer after the vote.


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