The man who led the Spokane Park Board in two years of major changes, big park upgrades and turmoil is leaving his seat this month.
Gary Lawton, whose term ends this year, was the Park Board president in 2008 and 2009. In that time, the Park Board pushed park staff to quickly plan, design and build six new swimming pools and other new park infrastructure approved by voters in 2007.
The period may most be remembered, however, for a drawn-out showdown between the Park Board and the Spokane City Council over the board’s plan to purchase and tear down the former Riverfront Park YMCA. Park officials eventually prevailed and the building was demolished this year.
“He’s persistent and consistent, but always respectful,” said Leroy Eadie, the last of the three park directors who led the department when Lawton was president.
He will be replaced on the board by Dr. Samuel Selinger, a retired cardiovascular surgeon who founded Project Access, a nonprofit that assists people without health insurance.
Selinger, a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins Medical School, said Wednesday that he is working to get up-to-date on park issues and potential solutions to budget shortfalls.
“We have to listen and be innovative,” Selinger said.
Also joining the board next month is Andy Dunau, president of Dunau Associates, a communications firm in Spokane. He also is the executive director of the Spokane River Forum, a group focused on educating the public about issues surrounding the river. He is a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa and New York University. An attempt to reach him was unsuccessful Wednesday.
Dunau will finish the term of Kimberly Morse, who resigned in December citing time constraints.
Selinger and Dunau were selected by Mayor Mary Verner and have been approved by the Spokane City Council.