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Mirabeau park called a ‘jewel’

Thu., July 25, 2013

Geology report could be used to create tours, lessons

A Spokane Community College earth science instructor called Mirabeau Point Park a “jewel” and an “island of natural history” during a presentation before the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday.

Instructor Andy Buddington seemed excited as only a geologist can be as he described unusual rock outcroppings and other features present in the 55-acre park just north of the Valley YMCA and CenterPlace. His students recently spent time surveying the park and marking their finds. “It seemed like around every nook and cranny there was an interesting site to document,” he said. “This place is a gem.”

He showed a picture of a boudin, a protrusion in the rock created when the rock stretches and deforms, and declared it the largest he had ever seen. Students also found large boulders of non-native rock that were likely deposited during the massive flood at the end of the last Ice Age.

The report created by the students could be used to create a walking tour and lesson plans for teachers who want to bring their class to the park on a field trip, Buddington said. “I see a lot of potential for educational opportunities here,” he said.

Mayor Tom Towey said promoting the park’s geological features is worth looking into. “I’m really excited about that walking tour,” he said.

In other business, a majority of the council voted to advance changes to the city’s sign code to a second and final reading. The primary changes allow reader boards and remove the requirement that banners be attached to a building. The new rules would also allow each business to have two temporary signs instead of one.

Councilman Ben Wick said he knew he was in the minority but wanted to voice his concern about allowing too many signs. “I don’t know that we need to have one more temporary sign,” he said.

The council also took its first look at proposed changes in the city’s outdoor lighting code. One of the key changes would eliminate the maximum height of pole-mounted fixtures. “The higher the pole, the larger an area you can cover,” planner Marty Palaniuk said.

The council also gave the green light to move forward with a grant application with the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission to install safety improvements at the BNSF Railway crossing on Vista Road near Trent Avenue. The city could receive up to $40,000 to install concrete dividers to stop people from driving around the crossing arms when they are down, Public Works Director Eric Guth said. The project would cost about $51,000, he said.

“BNSF has recorded six near-misses at this crossing in the last five years,” he said.

“It helps the railroad,” Councilman Arne Woodard said. “It helps our citizens. I think this is a great thing.”

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