Valley council’s bus tour stops at noted locations

Mayor Tom Towey, right, City Manager Mike Jackson, left, and other Spokane Valley City Council members and city officials listen to  commentary as the bus tours the Spokane Business and Industrial Park on Sullivan Road, Sept. 23. (Jesse Tinsley)
Mayor Tom Towey, right, City Manager Mike Jackson, left, and other Spokane Valley City Council members and city officials listen to commentary as the bus tours the Spokane Business and Industrial Park on Sullivan Road, Sept. 23. (Jesse Tinsley)

Abandoned Great Northern Railway right of way could become paved trail

The Spokane Valley City Council took a three-hour tour last week, but instead of ending up on a tropical island they stopped by some city parks as well as other locations that have been topics of discussion in recent months.

The tour started at City Hall and headed west on Sprague Avenue, stopping at Balfour Park before continuing west to Thierman Road and turning around. A tour of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office training center at the old University City Mall was followed by a look at Edgecliff Park and a neighborhood that had been plagued by flooding problems before the city beefed up the storm water runoff systems.

As the chartered STA bus headed east on Empire Way, Public Works Director Neil Kersten pointed out a gravel trail that’s on the Great Northern Railway right of way. The city is trying to get grant money to pave it and turn it into a route that stretches from Spokane Community College to the eastern edge of Spokane Valley. “It has very few car crossings so it would be very safe,” Kersten said as he showed council members and other city staff how the trail paralleled the train tracks under Trent. “It actually gets used fairly heavily right now as a gravel pathway.”

The bus also swung through the Coyote Rocks development, but no one got off the bus to look at the illegal docks that prompted the Department of Ecology to sue the city for not enforcing the Shoreline Management Act. Everyone did get off the bus to look at the former Senior Center site next to Valley Mission Park and the horse arena at the bottom of the hill that is only a stone’s throw from Interstate 90.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone said the city may need to do something about the horse arena. It has only been rented three times this year and the city only charges $150 for a weekend. “We’re not making enough to cover costs,” Stone said.

Stone said he is looking into leasing the property out or the city could take out the arena and put in something like skate park. “We would not want to mess with the sledding hill,” he said.

Councilman Dean Grafos asked if the city could put a dog park there. “It would be a little small,” Stone said.

In the Spokane Business and Industrial Park on Sullivan Road the bus picked up a new passenger, Dean Stuart, Crown West director of marketing. Crown West owns the business park. Stuart kept up a running commentary on the park and the improvements his company has made since purchasing it in 1996 as the bus passed by rows and rows of buildings. Councilwoman Brenda Grassel, who owns Precision Cutting Technologies located in the Industrial Park along with her husband, said she wanted to thank Stuart “as a renter” for the security patrols Crown West provides.

At the final stop at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, Director Nancy Hill led the group through the shelter’s cramped space. The garage does triple duty as a truck unloading point, storage for animal food and pet crates and a classroom. In addition to caring for lost cats and dogs, the shelter also responds to calls involving dog bites and barking dogs. Animal control officers typically respond to one dog bite incident a day in Spokane County, Hill said. Her agency deals with 10,000 requests for service each year.

“I think it’s an overlooked service until you need it,” she said.

Due to time constraints the tour skipped several planned stops, including the Spokane Valley Police Precinct, the Spokane Valley Fire training center and the site of the new Greenacres Park.

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