Jason Beasley has lived on East Hills Court for 10 years.
For just about as long, he’s unsuccessfully lobbied the city of Spokane to get the street paved all the way to where it dead ends in the beginning of the Ben Burr Trail.
The city’s decision to restore and pave the Ben Burr Trail has infuriated Beasley, who said he is considering suing the city if the paved trail is connected to the unpaved East Hills Court.
“It’s completely embarrassing to connect a paved foot trail to an unpaved road,” Beasley said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”
Julie Happy, division communication manager of business and developer services, said in an email the city has no plans to pave East Hills Court.
She added that the Ben Burr Trail will be connected to the already paved 11th Avenue near Fiske Street.
The city retains the right-of-way to the part of Fiske Street that runs between 11th Avenue and East Hills Court, which is a grassy area, traversed with shallow gullies and rocks from rainwater runoff and piled high with dead trees and other debris.
“People are not going to park on 11th and walk down here,” Beasley said. “And where would people park? They would park on East Hills Court.” Beasley said city vehicles park there all the time and he’s worried, once construction begins on the Ben Burr Trail project, the unpaved road will dissolve completely.
“Right now it’s just a huge dust bowl,” Beasley said.
There are about 48 miles of unpaved streets in Spokane, including about 22 miles on the South Hill. The city will work with residents to get them paved, but residents along those streets have to pay two-thirds of the cost.
Happy said residents along Hills Court have attempted to go through that process several times in the last 10 years, but never were able to get a majority of property owners behind paving.
Beasley said the main reason why a majority didn’t sign on to the paving proposal was that the city wanted to take part of the front yards along Hills Court.
“The city would put in sidewalks and retaining walls and people just weren’t interested in that,” Beasley said. “They just wanted the road paved.” He said he suggested a different paving material, chip seal, which is a layer of asphalt covered with a fine layer of rocks.
“It works great in Post Falls,” Beasley said.
His idea was rejected by the city because it doesn’t meet street standards.
The city plans to move ahead on the $1.7 million Ben Burr Trail restoration project this spring, even though the East Central Neighborhood Council passed a resolution against it and many community activists have testified against it since it was revealed last fall.
Beasley said he’s happy with the trail the way it is and that his wife often uses it.
“She feels perfectly safe there the way it is,” Beasley said.
The Ben Burr Trail project is funded mainly by the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and the Surface Transportation Program. The federal grants have already been awarded.
“It’s just bad planning,” Beasley said.