Incoming parks director talks about what he sees ahead for Spokane
The Spokane City Council is scheduled tonight to appoint Leroy Eadie, the city’s former planning director, to head the city’s parks system. Eadie has been acting parks director since October. He sat down for a Q-and-A with The Spokesman-Review.
Q: As a former city planner, how do you feel about using the county’s Conservation Futures program to buy the former YMCA in Riverfront Park to create open space bordering Spokane Falls?
A: I think that in the future, if the building wasn’t there, that people will cite that as one of the more dramatic locations in Riverfront Park. So, from a planner’s perspective, I think that is a really good, good use of park property in that location for it to be open space. … I also at the same time respect the people who are concerned about loss of economic opportunity and at the same time respect the fact that it’s a big chunk of Conservation Futures funding we would be putting (toward) a building.
Q: Last year, kids were charged to swim at the city’s outdoor pools for only the second summer in almost 100 years. Will that $1 charge be revisited?
A: It will still be a dollar. The Park Board hasn’t changed their policy on that. … The one thing that is really good is that the (Spokane) Parks Foundation …. (is) fundraising to help offset and provide scholarships for children who want to swim in the summer but can’t afford it. … Spokane’s got a tradition of trying to provide affordable swimming to as many citizens as possible. We’re also trying to support that, but at the same time, just like any entity out there in today’s economic environment, you’re trying to maximize cost recovery.
Q: In Spokane, the Park Board, not the City Council, has full authority over park policy and spending. Do you think the City Charter’s creation of an independent Park Board helps or hurts the park system?
A: If you have a person who can build those relationships and really work with all those bodies, then I think that both the strength of strong charter language and independence of the Park Board works real well for providing parks and recreation services to the citizens of Spokane.
Q: Any upcoming projects you want to discuss?
A: (Eadie mentions responses the parks department received to a request for ideas for park land currently used as a parking lot, called the Bosch lot, which is just north of the Monroe Street Bridge on Bridge Street. One of the two responses came from the Spokane Tribe of Indians, which hopes to build a living history center on the site.)
… It would be really exciting to have the Spokane Tribe, and other tribes that would participate with them, be in the central part of our city and have that opportunity to tell the story of … the Spokane Tribe, and if they chose, the other tribes in our area.