Recent vandalism in Millwood City Park sparked the Millwood City Council to make changes in park use.
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the council unanimously approved an ordinance restricting park hours for the first time.
Effectively immediately, the park will be closed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Failure to comply with the ordinance is a civil offense and subject to a fine.
The public comment portion of the meeting was dominated by mixed reactions to the recent water rate increase.
In May, the council voted to increase water rates by 14 percent beginning July 1. The increase raises the base rate to $20 a month per first 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption. Users pay 20 cents per 100 cubic feet for 1,000 cubic feet to 2,000 cubic feet per month and 30 cents per 100 cubic feet beyond 2,000 cubic feet per month.
Resident Dan Sander commended the council on taking the step.
“My water bill went up also, and I say it’s about time,” Sander said. “It’s been way too many years that we’ve been subsidizing the water department and postponing some improvements and maintenance.”
Karen Winsper, who raises sheep, asked the council what the city is doing to conserve water usage.
“I want to know what the park usages are per acre on average,” Winsper said. “So that I know what I’m supposed to be using as a guideline.”
Jim Youngman, who requested a special rate for agriculture last month, noted that the city used 262,190 cubic feet of water last August for amenities such as the splash pad or wading pool in the park. He asked if the city considered putting in a recycling system for the splash pad.
“It’s important to understand the city doesn’t get that water for free,” Councilman Kevin Freeman said, addressing the city’s conservation efforts. “As we go forward we should be tasked as a public works department to look at and make sure we are not only minimizing our impacts but optimizing the types of equipment we have.”
Freeman suggested exploring an agriculture rate for land designated to raise crops for profit.
City Treasurer Debbie Matkin presented the council with a second-quarter report on the budget. She noted that while overall the city is tracking in the black, the water fund is an estimated $6,000 short. According to Matkin, if the city hadn’t raised water rates it would be short more than $25,000.
Karl Otterstrom, director of planning for the Spokane Transit Authority, presented two proposed layover options for the Millwood transit route. The buses’ current layover spot on Bridgeport is seeing some asphalt damage as a result.
One option requires designating a section of the Union Pacific railroad right-of-way on Euclid Avenue, just west of Argonne Road. The second is on the north side of Dalton Avenue, where Otterstrom said several street parking spots near the Corner Door Fountain and Books would be eliminated and reserved for the bus. Mayor Dan Mork said eliminating parking on Dalton Avenue is an issue due to the businesses operating in the area.
Freeman asked if the bus could park farther west, closer to Marguerite Road on Euclid Avenue due to the Company Ballet School parking.
Otterstrom said he will be working with the city to finalize the plans; STA hopes to make changes to the route this fall.
Also during the meeting, the council hired Welch Comer and Associates to prepare two Transportation Improvement Board grant applications at a cost of $2,500.
The funding would be for a future pavement preservation project, resurfacing the asphalt on Buckeye Avenue between Argonne and Vista Road, as well as to install sidewalks on the north side of Buckeye from Argonne to Bessie Road.