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Saturday, February 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Gonzaga ties are at the top of Logan Neighborhood Council list

Much of the Logan neighborhood fits right in with the rest of Spokane’s north side. A patterned grid of heavily treed residential streets and alleys surround single-family dwellings, many of them built more than 100 years ago. There used to be a small Jesuit university near the southern end.

But then the school got bigger. A lot bigger.

Gonzaga University nearly doubled its enrollment after becoming a national basketball power near the turn of the century, pouring more than 3,000 transient student residents into the neighborhood. Getting them involved is the Logan Neighborhood Council’s top priority.

“Gonzaga has such great intentions,” said council Chair Lauren Schubring. “There are a lot of ways we can help get the college students to engage more with the neighborhood they are living in.”

The Logan neighborhood covers the area from the Spokane River north to Euclid Avenue between Division Street and Napa Street, extending to Crestline Avenue between Illinois Avenue and Euclid. The neighborhood is home to four parks: Mission Park, Heath Park, Logan Peace Park and Foothills Park.

The Logan council works closely with Mary Joan Hahn, Gonzaga’s director of community and public relations, to bridge the gap between student and homeowner. “We did an asset review of the neighborhood that finished in 2016,” said Hahn. “The biggest recommendation that came out of that was that we needed to create opportunities to meet and build relationships with neighbors.”

Hahn, a regular at Logan council meetings, is often joined by large groups of GU students. Seeking practical insight into grass-roots governance, the students often fill the Logan Elementary School library to capacity.

“It’s an educational process for them,” said Hahn. “That’s part of what we are trying to expose them to, how communities organize themselves and address problems … and what a neighborhood group can do.”

The council and Gonzaga will partner with a long list of community providers to present the Logan Neighborhood Block Party, one of the city’s largest public gatherings.

“We attract a lot of neighbors,” said cleanup coordinator Hazel Jackson. “We’ve had over 2,000 attendees.”

Among the attractions are the free food, music, dancing, hoops, corn hole, street games and prize drawings. The COPS Mounted Patrol will appear, and Jackson will hand out dump passes.

“It’s really to connect everybody in the neighborhood with each other,” said Hahn. “Everybody is at the table; it’s not only Gonzaga.”

Jackson said the student population shows a lot of neighborhood spirit. “They are always willing to come out and help us with our cleanup,” she said. “They play a great role for us.”

Logan’s 2018 spring cleanup event attracted over 100 volunteers – 80 of them Gonzaga students – and removed 33 tons of trash in a three-hour period.

“We had over a hundred pickup trucks and trailers bringing trash, and some of the neighbors came two and three times and helped pick up trash from their neighbors who didn’t have any way of getting their trash to the cleanup,” Jackson said.

“Gonzaga just played a huge role in that,” she said.

Other council interests include street planning, sidewalk funding and turn signals.

Construction on the Cincinnati Greenway is slated to begin in summer of 2019. The 1.7- mile project will connect the Ben Burr and Centennial Trails to existing bike lanes along Addison Street north of Euclid, providing a safer route for pedestrian and bicycle traffic through the neighborhood.

The project, spearheaded by Gonzaga engineering Professor Rhonda Young and assisted by city engineer, Gonzaga adjunct professor and Northwest Neighborhood Council Chair Bob Turner, is already providing practical experience to Gonzaga engineering students.

“They are trying some different kinds of pavements out on Sharpe Ave., some that are more or less porous,” said Hahn.

The neighborhood’s wealth of old-growth street trees creates a problem endemic to much of Spokane: tree roots pushing up sidewalks. “Wheelchairs can’t navigate some of those bumps and ridges,” said Logan council member Henry Sasser.

As the council’s sidewalk coordinator, Sasser applied for Community Development funding the past two years to no avail. “Funding … has been siphoned away from that,” he said. “So I’ve been pursuing some other options, other funding.”

The neighborhood’s principal traffic headache will soon be gone: The city recently announced plans to install left-turn signals on Hamilton Street between Desmet Avenue and North Foothills Drive.

“It’s about time,” said Sasser. “We’ve been trying to get the left-turn signals on Mission in particular for several years.”

The intersection at Mission and Hamilton often backs up during rush hour, goading impatient drivers into reckless decisions. “We’ve had a lot of accidents up there,” said Jackson.

The signals will be installed in 2019 and 2020.

Schubring recently took the council gavel from longtime Chair Nick Velis. At 25, the recent Moody Bible Institute graduate is the city’s youngest neighborhood council chair.

“We have to give her a little time to get familiar with it,” said Sasser. Velis, who stepped down after moving to Spokane Valley, still attends meetings to ease the transition.

Schubring is already expanding the council’s social media presence. “I want to make it the effective tool it can be,” she said.

Potential Gonzaga connections are at the top of Schubring’s list. “I’d love it if I could build some meaningful relationships with student leaders at Gonzaga,” she said. “There are a lot of ways we can make that happen.”

“I really value getting people connected, helping people realize what they have to offer their community,” she said.

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