Development panel draws 19 hopefuls


City Council expands positions available on ad hoc economic committee

The city of Spokane Valley received 19 applications for its new Economic Development ad hoc committee and the City Council was so pleased by the response that they agreed to increase the number of people on the committee.

Original plans called for two council members, two business representatives, two tourism representatives, a citizen at-large and a youth member age 16-19. The city did not receive any applications for the youth position, so the council agreed to make that another citizen at-large seat and will add a third business representative and third tourism representative.

“I’m very encouraged by the quality of individuals who applied for this ad hoc committee,” Mayor Tom Towey said.

There was some discussion about whether to add another council member to the committee, which council members Ben Wick and Brenda Grassel have expressed interest in serving on, but that idea was quickly set aside. “We don’t want it to look like it’s council-dominated,” Councilman Chuck Hafner said.

Towey will make his recommendations for the positions at the council meeting Tuesday.

In other business, the council discussed what road projects should be included in the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, which must be updated annually. Senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley presented the current list of projects plus a list of unfunded projects the city has been maintaining for several years.

The plan doesn’t include street preservation projects because in the past those haven’t been funded, Worley said. The projects have to be based on what grant money the city typically receives, he said. Councilman Dean Grafos questioned why the unfunded projects list still includes the extension of Appleway Boulevard from University to Tschirley roads.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “I thought we were not moving ahead on these.”

Worley agreed that the projects should be removed from the list. Several council members said some street preservation projects should be added to the TIP. Hafner said the city should focus on the cheaper preservation projects first. “We have to take care of the roads that need immediate attention first before we get into reconstruction,” Hafner said.

Grafos suggested focusing on the main traffic corridors first and said the city should “make sure we’re just not chasing grants. Tell us what we can do on those roads with the dollars we have available.”

Grassel asked if road projects can include beautification elements like trees and landscaping. Worley said that usually isn’t included because the city currently does not have a plan or policy calling for street trees. Street trees were put in when a section of Appleway was improved several years ago because at the time street trees and beautification were included in the now-defunct Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan, Worley said.

His statement seemed to catch the council by surprise and several said they had no idea the city didn’t have a beautification plan.

“Are you suggesting the council have a policy on this?” Hafner said.

“It would help,” Worley said.

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