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Playing by the rules: ‘Do’s and ‘don’t’s in Spokane’s park system

Apparently, Spokane’s early park system had a problem with profanity.

Regional historian John Fahey, in an article for the Pacific Northwest Quarterly journal in October 1981, included in his profile of Spokane’s first park board president, Aubrey L. White, that rules were promulgated in 1913 intended to clean up the discourse in neighborhood parks.

“Persons in the park were forbidden to gamble or to make ‘any oration, harangue, or loud outcry; to utter profane, threatening, abusive, or indecent language … or to bathe or fish in lakes or ponds.’”

Parkgoers in 2018 still can’t fish in those ponds, and bathing might get you in trouble with local law enforcement.

Here are a few other helpful tips of what to do, and what not to do, in Spokane’s extensive park system, including rules approved earlier this spring ahead of the busy summer season.

DO bring your pet, but make sure it’s on a leash. Park policies also require you to pick up after it has done its business. Pets are barred from Riverfront Park during certain special events, including Bloomsday, Hoopfest, Fourth of July and Pig Out in the Park.

DO use provided barbecues and fire pits for your picnics, but don’t build fires during designated burn bans, often during the dry months of the summer (July and August).

DO pay for your round of golf before walking on to the links. Entry onto park grounds where fees are assessed – among them the city’s golf courses – require payment under new rules. That includes early morning runners in the summer, which can present a safety issue, said Jason Conley, executive officer of Spokane Parks. “What we don’t want is them on the playing surface, when the fee base is there,” he said.

DON’T bring your sleds or skis to city golf courses. Sledding has been prohibited on the city’s links since 2006, in a controversial decision that caused a rift between Spokane’s independent Park Board and the Spokane City Council. Skiing was allowed on two groomed trails at Indian Canyon Golf Course last year as part of a pilot program, but officials aren’t sure if they’ll repeat it during the 2018-19 winter because of planned improvements at area courses.

DON’T smoke or drink inside the parks. Play areas for children are designated as “tobacco-free zones” within the city, including playground equipment, ballfields and splash pads. The Spokane City Council recently added marijuana to its rules governing smoking in parks, making the opening of any packages of marijuana products an infraction that could net a fine of $56. That’s the same amount someone drinking alcohol without prior approval by park officials would receive. The city allows the sale of alcohol on designated park property, which includes Riverfront Park, Finch Arboretum and golf courses.

DON’T bring your metal detector to Riverfront Park, People’s Park or any of the flower beds in the Manito Park gardens. Archaeologists have found some cool things beneath the earth in Riverfront Park as part of the renovation, including some artifacts believed to have originated in Spokane’s original Chinatown, but park rules prohibit hobbyists in this area. Other parks are OK, but digging implements smaller than a shovel are required.

DON’T bring your fireworks. They’re prohibited by law not just within the city’s park system, but also within city limits. Violations can net up to $1,000 in fines under the city’s laws.

DON’T enter the Spokane River near Riverfront Park. This includes those with kayaks and other floatation devices. There is a boat exit beneath the Division Street bridge, near the Spokane Convention Center, and work is underway on a new access point near Glover Field in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood.


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