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WSU students offer plans for Peaceful Valley project

A group of Washington State University architecture students have been working on plans for a possible remodeling of Peaceful Valley Community Center.

Professor Matthew Cohen’s third-year architectural design students used Peaceful Valley Community Center at 214 N. Cedar St., and nearby Glover Field as an example of a community project they may encounter in real life.

The students presented their preliminary plans to Peaceful Valley residents in January, and they returned Friday with detailed scale models, prints and drawings to present their final projects.

One challenge facing a potential renovation in the area is the city’s plan to locate a combined sewage overflow tank partly submerged in Glover Field. The tank is needed to mitigate the city’s stormwater overflow problem and is one of three tanks that must be in place by 2017.

“The tank is important to the environment,” said Cohen, “but it presented a unique challenge to the students.”

Partly underground, the tank may reach 10 to 15 feet above Glover Field. The students were told it was possible to build or maintain a park area on top of the tank, and were otherwise given free rein to design their projects.

One group proposed a Peaceful Valley Art Center, a combination of galleries, open artist work spaces and small apartments all built on and around the tank.

Another student group proposed a multiuse building with movable partitions that could be used as a community center, children’s center and exhibit hall.

One student project was focused on a large community garden combined with small pens for goats and chickens, as well as a smaller community center building.

Several projects were designed around social needs such as homelessness.

One student suggested a temporary housing development for the homeless, featuring nine independent living units and a common area for social services. Another student made plans for single-occupancy modular housing units that could be moved around and connected as needed.

The Peaceful Valley Community Center is in a state of flux as its youth program is trying to relocate to All Saints Lutheran Church in Browne’s Addition. The program has been looking for a new location for years because the current community center offers inadequate space.

Mark Reilly, director of the Peaceful Valley Community Center, said he’s not sure what’s going to happen to the community center’s building when the youth program moves.

“I’ve been told it will most likely be torn down,” Reilly said. “It’s in very poor shape.”

When the combined sewage overflow tank is built in Glover Park, the city will have to reimburse the Spokane Parks Department for the land, Reilly said, but there is currently no funding set aside to complete a renovation or remodeling of the Peaceful Valley Community Center.

“I loved the students’ ideas. They are so creative, they really came up with some good stuff,” Reilly said, “but as things stand now it’s unrealistic to get any funding for what they are proposing.”