Only a handful of cities have sprouted in Washington during the past decade and Spokane Valley is one of them – this month it celebrates 10 years as a city.
About 51 percent of voters approved the incorporation initiative in 2002, and on March 31, 2003, Spokane Valley became the largest city ever to incorporate in Washington.
Spokane Valley is the tenth-largest city in the state, according to 2010 census data, with a population of 89,755.
City officials called the new city the ninth-largest during their 2003 standing-room-only ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The same atmosphere packed the city’s anniversary party Saturday at CenterPlace as a marimba ensemble poured music through the halls and a bounty of cupcakes were passed around.
The party attracted visitors from outside the city limits as well, including people from Cheney and Boise.
Paraphernalia from the election in 2002 made an appearance in a history presentation by Spokane Valley Museum Director Jayne Singleton, including a supportive button: “Vote Yes. Incorporate Spokane Valley.”
Mayor Tom Towey took the office in 2010, but as a lifetime resident of the Valley he credits the first City Council for its work. Incorporation meant electing a council from scratch and creating a permit process that wouldn’t require a trip to the Spokane County courthouse, among other things.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich stopped by the anniversary festivities. He looks forward to another four-year contract this year between Spokane Valley and the Sheriff’s Office, he said.
These types of contracts are a national trend, he said, and his office has a deep tradition in the Valley before and after the incorporation.
Becoming a city came with its headaches. The change meant residents take their woes to the city instead of the county when a pothole damages their car or a roadway is not up to standards.
That’s OK, because “the future of the Valley rests in the involvement of our citizens,” Towey said.
Sheila Bechtel stopped by the party with her daughter. She has enjoyed her life in the Valley and has only one beef with the city, she said: the single direction of Sprague Avenue.
“I hope they change it back,” Bechtel said, “but it’s nice to have our own little city with everything self-contained.”
As the city reaches maturity, the Valley continues to grow and build identity, Towey said.
“But, like all cities, we go through growing pains,” he added.