A new plaza overlooking the lower Spokane Falls opened Friday in a dedication ceremony attended by several hundred people.
City Hall plaza provides a gathering spot and a people-friendly link between Riverfront Park and the newly redesigned Huntington Park along the lower falls.
The new plaza, which is yet to be formally named, replaces a parking lot that occupied the site on the north side of City Hall.
Mayor David Condon invited the public to submit suggested names to City Hall.
“It’s really a fantastic feeling to be here,” Spokane tribal elder Pat Moses said during the morning ceremony.
The roar of the lower falls can be heard from the plaza. “It’s a beautiful sound down there, a beautiful gathering,” he said.
Moses later gave a blessing in his native Salish language.
The plaza is a joint project of Avista Corp., which is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and the city of Spokane. The utility paid to develop the plaza on city land as a gift to the city. Land Expressions of Spokane was the lead contractor on the project.
The plaza contains a series of levels connected by steps, a pair of waterfall fountains and plenty of seating area. The overall effect is geometric and modern.
In a second morning ceremony, Huntington Park was rededicated.
Native drumming and chanting was powerful enough to overcome the roar of the falls, which is flowing at a high level because of spring runoff.
A newly opened walkway around the historic Washington Water Power Co. substation is now accessible to the public.
The new park replaces natural terracing with lawn, other landscaping and picnic tables. New sculptures depict a salmon chief and women drying salmon.
The salmon chief piece is the work of artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand and represents the native tradition of appointing one man to ensure that all area tribes got enough salmon to last through winter, according to Avista.
Meladi Rhoads, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, attended the event with her son, Joe Lowley, a descendant of the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane tribes.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Rhoads said of the park.
Lowley said, “I think they went over and beyond. Look at all of the river people who are here, native and non-native.”