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Shoreline restoration reviewed

Sat., Dec. 8, 2012, midnight

City Council examines newest part of plan

The Spokane Valley City Council got its first look at another portion of the city’s Shoreline Master Program on Tuesday. The city is doing a state-mandated update of the plan, which regulates the shoreline in the city, and has been working on the various sections of the plan for many months.

The newest section, a restoration plan, lays out goals and policies for any shoreline restoration that is done, said senior planner Lori Barlow. “This is a voluntary document,” she said. “It offers opportunities that are nonbinding.”

The city has shoreline areas that are eroding, have noxious weeds or have been cleared of native vegetation. Barlow cited as an example a restoration recently completed on the Spokane River banks just east of the Flora Road Centennial Trail trailhead. High water flows were eroding the bank next to the trail and the city teamed with Washington State Parks to complete repairs, Barlow said.

“There was concern that if it went through one more season it would actually undermine the trail,” she said. Large boulders were placed on the site and vegetation will be planted in the spring, she said.

The draft restoration plan calls for the city and its partners to identify possible restoration projects in 2014, apply for funding for the projects with those partners in 2016 and support the completion of funded projects by 2018.

Councilwoman Brenda Grassel asked what consequences the city might face if any of the identified restoration projects aren’t completed. Attorney Tadas Kisielius said individual projects might fail due to lack of funding or other reasons but the plan itself will not fail. A lot of the tasks are voluntary but the city is required to have a plan. “This is an extra tool to achieve the no net loss rule,” he said.

In other business, the council reviewed the city’s proposed 2013 fee schedule. The various fees account for nearly $1.9 million in general fund revenue, said finance director Mark Calhoun. “The fees that are generated by this are substantial,” he said.

Few fee changes are proposed for 2013. If approved by the council, the swimming lessons fee will increase by $5 to $35 and the swim team fee will increase $10 to $45. The swimming lesson fee will be on par with the fees charged by Spokane County and the YMCA, Calhoun said, while the swim team fee will be substantially less. The city of Spokane is proposing raising its swim team fee to $150 in 2013, Calhoun said.

There will also be some new opportunities. People will be able to get a birthday party package at CenterPlace for $175 that includes decorations, games and activities for up to 12 children. Two new picnic shelters located between CenterPlace and Discovery Playground will be rented in two-hour time slots for $35. Other picnic shelters must be rented for a minimum of four hours.

Businesses that rent rooms in CenterPlace eight or more times a year will be given a discount if they meet certain criteria, such as using the in-house caterer for a meal with each rental.

The council also heard a report on the proposed renewal of the street maintenance contract with Poe Asphalt and the street sweeping contract with AAA Sweeping. The only major change is that the street maintenance contract will drop from $1.54 million to $1.36 million because it will no longer include grind and overlay projects, said public works director Eric Guth. The contract will be limited to work like filling potholes, crack sealing and other maintenance work. “We took out the larger paving projects,” he said.

Councilman Dean Grafos suggested taking snowplowing out of the contract and bidding it separately in the future. “It should be done well in advance of snow season,” he said. “I think we could save some money.”

“I think the competition helps us,” said Councilman Arne Woodard.

The council also agreed to vote next week on a memorandum of understanding with the city of Millwood for a safety improvement project on Argonne Road between Empire and Knox avenues. The two entities jointly applied for and won a $180,640 federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant. “It was an invitation-only grant,” Guth said. “I guess we hit the lotto.”

The grant will fully fund the project, which will include improvements to traffic lights and signal synchronization to reduce rear-end collisions and car vs. pedestrian accidents. Improvements will also be made to the signal at Liberty and Argonne.

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