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Construction to begin soon at Joe Albi

Construction of a new sports complex for softball and soccer at Joe Albi Stadium is getting underway with approval of a $7.8 million contract with Bouten Construction Co. of Spokane.

The Spokane Park Board in a special meeting Monday approved Bouten as the lowest bidder on the work, which is being financed by a $42.9 million voter-approved bond issue in 2007 for pools and park improvements.

Under the bond issue, the department is developing a long-sought softball complex at Albi Stadium near the existing Merkel Sports Complex for soccer.

“It’s a really neat project for the community,” said Scott McGlocklin, project manager at Bouten. He said he grew up playing soccer at the existing Merkel soccer facility, and is excited to be involved in improvements there, which will begin after an April 6 pre-construction meeting at City Hall.

In a first phase of development at Albi, Bouten will build five illuminated natural turf softball fields and one illuminated artificial turf soccer field. Also to be built are seven natural turf soccer fields, a neighborhood park, 1,040 parking spaces, trails, utility improvements and landscaping.

Structures for the complex will include concessions for softball and soccer, restrooms and a maintenance center.

The construction this year will allow seeding of fields in August to give turf time to grow and become playable in 2010, McGlocklin said.

Funding for the Albi project includes about $4 million held in reserve for a softball complex from the sale of park property near Northpointe to Wal-Mart. Parks officials more than a decade ago sought to build a softball complex at a reclaimed sewage lagoon, but neighborhood opposition developed. Voters in 1999 approved moving the project to Albi, and the park land was sold to Wal-Mart at a profit to the parks department.

The city received 10 bidders on the Albi project, said Nancy Goodspeed, parks spokeswoman.

In addition to the Albi contract, the Park Board approved a $736,000 contract with Cameron-Reilly LLC, of the Spokane area, for construction of six water splash play features at Franklin, Glass, Manito, Pacific, Underhill parks and the new Albi-Merkel neighborhood park.

It is the second phase of construction of splash play features to replace wading pools that were removed from city parks several years ago.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.