Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Working together

Cities team up to offer more recreational opportunities

The city of Spokane Valley is working with neighboring cities to expand its class offerings this spring and summer as the Parks and Recreation Department tries to get the most bang for its buck.

When cities work together, they share the costs of putting on an event or offering a class, said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone. They also avoid offering duplicate classes. “Sometimes it’s important to have a bigger base to draw from,” he said.

Spokane Valley is working with Liberty Lake to offer three dance classes every Monday night in three six-week sessions. The first session, offering classes in ballroom classics, romance dances and swing, has already begun. Stone is also teaming up with the city of Spokane and Spokane County to host an adult dodgeball league that will start in June.

In most such arrangements each parks department pays for its own advertising and each keeps registration money from its residents. All the entities involved then pay the fee for the instructor. “We just both are open for registration,” said recreation coordinator Jennifer Papich. “It’s more about providing services than making money.”

In the case of the dodgeball league, all the entities are sharing revenues and expenses equally in order to offer something that would be too expensive for one recreation department to do on its own. “Would we have done the dodgeball league on our own? Probably not,” Papich said.

Like all Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation classes, the new offerings must pay for themselves. “We’re constantly having to watch where we’re spending,” Stone said.

Pool users won’t notice many new changes this year after the pools got an upgrade last summer. The closing dates will be staggered instead of all the pools closing at once. “We found out last year that we needed to keep our pools open longer,” Stone said.

Spokane Valley pools saw a large spike in attendance last summer, up to 33,688 from 24,409 in 2008. Stone thinks that is due to the new amenities and the fact that many Spokane pools were closed for construction most of the summer. “It was quite an increase,” he said.

Last summer a new rule that groups of 10 or more must call ahead for reservation was added. That worked so well that it will continue this year, Stone said. That way they can ensure that a pool won’t be too full for neighborhood children who simply walk in.

Stone’s department is also in the early stages of planning the new Greenacres Park on eight acres northwest of the intersection of Long Road and Boone Avenue. A community meeting is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Greenacres Christian Church, 18010 E. Mission Ave.

A previous meeting was held to discuss options for the park and the next meeting will present neighbors with several conceptual designs, Stone said. “We need to get a firm design the neighborhood is OK with,” he said.

Stone said he is exploring grant options to get money to build the park, which does not yet have a construction schedule.

The city is also looking at possible sites for a dog park, but that effort will probably have to be funded by private donations, Stone said. “We don’t have a lot of funding for capital projects,” he said.

Still, Stone said he realizes that such a park is important to residents. “Dog owners are very passionate about their animals,” he said.

Click here to comment on this story »