August 3, 2013 in Washington Voices

Balfour Park design takes step forward

New library contingent on district passing bond
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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In other business

 At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council heard an update on plans to add landscaping on Appleway Boulevard between Dora Street and Park Road. The project is partially designed and Public Works Director Eric Guth said he would like to pave the portion of several gravel driveways that are located in the road’s right of way. “They’ve been overtaken by weeds,” he said. “They don’t look nice.”

 The original price estimate was $201,000 but that has risen to $260,000, Guth said, partly because of the addition of the driveway paving. “We were somewhat taken aback by some of the fees for water connections,” he said.

 Guth said he also wants to reshape some of the existing swales so the sides aren’t so steep. The council has agreed to move forward with the project, but construction isn’t likely until 2014.

The city of Spokane Valley is working to finalize a site plan for the expansion of Balfour Park and possible construction of a new library on property it purchased at Sprague Avenue and Herald Road.

The plan is largely based on one of the three designs presented at public meetings in the spring. The city is partnering with the Spokane County Library District to jointly develop the site as a park and library. The construction of the library is contingent on the library district passing a bond to pay for the project.

“We had an amazing consensus that site plan A was preferred,” said Gary Bernardo of Bernardo-Wills Architects in a report to the City Council this week.

That version placed the library in the southwest corner of the property and the building had angled walls that would allow numerous windows looking out over the park. The plan also calls for a veterans memorial, a reading garden, a picnic shelter, an amphitheater, public art and open play areas. Two parking lots are shown with access to Herald, Sprague and Balfour Road.

The existing portion of Balfour Park would be largely untouched, but a splash pad and basketball court would be added. Designers believe it was important to retain the current amenities “so we weren’t taking away anything from the neighborhood,” Bernardo said.

The new plan also includes popular elements from the two other proposals, such as putting in colored concrete leading up to the library that would resemble a stream. “This was intended to act as a gathering place for festivals or markets,” said landscape architect Dell Hatch.

The design team has worked closely with the Spokane Valley Fire Department, which has a fire station on Sprague in front of Balfour Park. Their parking lot entrance is on Balfour Road and fire trucks sometimes use the road. “We’ve traded drawings back and forth,” Hatch said.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilman Ben Wick said he liked that the proposal included elements from all the proposed plans. “I really like this one and how you’ve melded it all together,” he said.

Councilman Arne Woodard expressed concern that one-way traffic on Sprague Avenue in front of the park would create safety issues and access problems. The city might want to consider converting that stretch back to two-way traffic, he said. “I wouldn’t want it to go beyond Herald,” he said.

“Getting to the new library and park from the west is a challenge because you have to back track,” Hatch said.

A final public meeting is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the site of the new park. The design may be changed based on public input and a final design should be presented to the City Council by November.

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