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Fence will give way to City Hall Plaza unveiling

Downtown Spokane visitors will finally be able to see what’s been hidden behind the tall chain-link fence on the north side of City Hall on Friday when Mayor David Condon and Avista CEO Scott Morris unveil the new City Hall Plaza and its terraced connection along the riverbank, down to Huntington Park. Events begin at 10:30 a.m. on the plaza and continue with a celebration in Huntington Park at 11:15 a.m.

“The construction of City Hall Plaza is a gift from Avista to Spokane celebrating our 120 year anniversary,” said Jessie Wuerst, Avista spokeswoman. “The land below the plaza belongs to the city.”

City Hall Plaza features a sculpture with a fire feature, benches and water features, and it’s designed to lead visitors down to Huntington Park, which is below the Historic Washington Water Power Building and City Hall.

“Huntington Park was very overgrown and hidden,” Wuerst said. “It belongs to Avista, and we have cleaned it up and opened the views of the falls.”

Children from the Salish School of Spokane will be singing, and there will be representatives from the Spokane Tribe as well as drummers performing in the park. Avista Utilities President Dennis Vermillion will be speaking as well.

As the dedication ceremonies come to a close, Wuerst said Avista will be sponsoring 500 coupons for free ice cream and food trucks will be along Post Street, which is closed for the events.

“The food trucks will stick around through the afternoon and into the evening,” Wuerst said, “to help celebrate First Friday.”

On Monday, the Spokane Sister Cities Association will celebrate the groundbreaking for the Connections Garden located inside Riverfront Park to the northwest of Howard Street Bridge.

The program will begin at 12:15 p.m. and will feature Mayor David Condon, former Mayor Jack Geragthy and representatives from the Sister Cities Association.

A choir from Holmes Elementary School will perform.

Margo Buckles, Spokane Sister Cities Association garden committee co-chairwoman, said the idea for the garden came from the Sister Cities International Conference Spokane hosted in 2005.

“Part of the conference was a youth program that produced some unusual sidewalk panels,” Buckles said. “They have golf balls and rocks and other objects imbedded in them, and you take your shoes off and walk on them.

Buckles said it’s an idea from Korea.

“It massages your feet,” Buckles said.

The Connections Garden will be expanded over the next year to feature art work and landscaping representing Spokane’s four sister cities: Nishinomiya in Japan, Jilin City in China, Limerick in Ireland and Jecheon in South Korea.

The cost of the garden is $250,000 and it’s funded by grants and donations. To that will be added the cost of five pieces of art representing the sister cities.

“When it’s done it will be a fun retreat within the park,” Buckles said.