Director urges expansion of Broadway Avenue Safety Project

The Broadway Avenue Safety Project, a road re-striping project that was delayed last year, may expand this year to include resurfacing a portion of the road and improving drainage issues to eliminate road flooding during heavy rains.

Public Works Director Neil Kersten presented the proposal to the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday and asked for permission to continue making plans to move forward, which the council unanimously granted. Councilwoman Brenda Grassel was absent.

The re-striping project will turn Broadway Avenue from Pines Road to Park Road into two travel lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes. Kersten said Broadway between Park and Vista Road is “substantially deteriorated.” “That older section of the road is in pretty bad shape,” he said.

He would like to resurface that section of the road, and it makes sense to do all the work at the same time, he said. The improvements would cost an additional $392,000, which is available in the city’s street fund, he said.

That same section of road also floods frequently because the dry wells in the area have failed. Kersten proposed that the city buy a vacant parcel of land at the low point of Broadway to create a storm swale to improve drainage. A swale would also filter storm water before it gets to the aquifer. The work is estimated to cost $458,750, which includes about $70,000 for the land, and could be paid for out of the storm water fund, Kersten said. “We have about $2 million right now in the storm water fund.”

The City Council would have to approve budget amendments to allocate the money to the proposed projects.

“Do we know what it would cost to replace the dry wells?” Councilman Arne Woodard asked.

Kersten said he didn’t have exact figures. “It will cost more to purchase this site and pipe the system,” he said. “This came up as we got into the design of the project. This is really a good long-term solution.”

Woodard noted that the city could end up paying much less because of the favorable bidding climate right now. A proposed budget amendment to fund the additional projects is scheduled to come before the council at the end of May.

In other business, the council discussed a proposed comprehensive plan amendment to eliminate the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. The planning commission recommended that the plan be kept, but it quickly became obvious Tuesday that four of the five council members present favored dumping SARP. Only Bill Gothmann indicated support for the plan.

If the council votes to go against the planning commission’s recommendation it must provide arguments against the reasons for the decisions given in the planning commission’s findings. The findings include the concerns that “conditions along the corridor will continue to decline without a plan to provide guidance.”

“I agree with the findings,” Gothmann said. “If we don’t have a plan the area will continue to decline.”

“I agree there’s a decline along Sprague,” Woodard said. “I disagree that it’s going to improve with SARP.”

Councilman Dean Grafos and Mayor Tom Towey agreed. “I certainly disagree with the planning commission findings,” Towey said. “I think SARP has a negative impact on our economic development.”

“The property owners have had no certainty about what they could do with their property,” Grafos said.

The findings also included a concern that “sufficient public input has not been sought to determine community support or opposition to the Subarea Plan.”

“We had a meeting with all the property owners zone by zone,” Grafos said.

Gothmann noted that for one zone only a handful of more than 200 property owners were heard from. “I believe there was insufficient input,” he said.

A majority of property owners have spoken against the plan, Grafos said. “It was put together in a different time. I’m completely against this plan.”

During the public comment period John McNamara of CarMax, a national used car chain, asked the council to eliminate SARP. His company is considering locating on nine acres next to Dishman Dodge, he said, and SARP “would make it impossible to develop this site.”

CarMax was mentioned last year as a possible tenant for property on Sprague on the west end of University City. The property owners requested and got an emergency ordinance passed by the council this year to rezone the whole University City area from City Center to mixed use, which would allow a used car lot. The land next to Dishman Dodge is in the Auto Row area and its zoning under SARP would allow a used car lot.

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