Because of a funding deficit, the Spokane Valley City Council decided to put off design and construction on the Balfour Park to University Road segment of the Appleway Trail.
Spokane Valley was facing a $1.6 million funding shortfall to complete two remaining segments of the Appleway Trail – Balfour Park to University and Evergreen to Sullivan roads. Both segments were planned for construction within the next two years.
The city at a Feb. 27 meeting opted to move forward with the Evergreen to Sullivan segment in 2019 by combining $2.4 million of available funds from both projects to pay for construction.
The Evergreen to Sullivan segment will close a physical gap in the trail east from University to the Sullivan to Corbin segment, which is also scheduled for completion in 2019.
City officials may pursue additional grant funding for the $1.6 million Balfour Park to University segment at a later date to connect the trail from Appleway Boulevard to City Hall, Balfour Park and a proposed future library.
Spokane Valley resident Nina Fluegal said dropping the Balfour to University section is a good idea.
“We’re still trying to get the library in place,” she said. “That might take a long, long time and to waste money on a project that may or may not happen in the future would be a waste of funds.”
Fluegal also brought forth concerns to the City Council about the trail’s current condition and asked who would pay for snow plowing as well as maintenance once it is complete.
There is a lot of trash accumulated along the trail, weeds growing where there is supposed to be grass and portions of the trail submerged by water when snow melts, she said.
“So, if we can only use the trail for maybe seven to eight months out of the year, have you thought about closing it the rest of the time? This isn’t the way to go,” she said. “If you have the funds to build it, then have enough of the funds to maintain it as well.”
Councilman Arne Woodard said that as the city continues to install amenities and gets closer to finishing the trail, he may be apt to discuss snow plowing for the trail at a June budget meeting, or next year’s council workshop. But, he is not interested in increasing the budget until the trail is complete.
City Manager Mark Calhoun said if the council is interested in coming up with money for snow removal in the future, city staff can provide an estimate.
“I do know when we had the first section done – University to Pines – we approached Senske, who takes care of our other parks and they had no interest in clearing the trail,” Calhoun said. “Their concern was liability reasons. It’s been a conscious decision to not clear the trail of snow and recognize that we have a trail that’s in use eight to nine months out of the year, much like the Centennial Trail.”
Woodard said it is important for the city to connect all sections of the trail, so it is usable to the public, especially bicycle riders who have to go around unfinished areas.
Woodard said the city started the project five years ago and advanced it faster than its estimated 20-year plan.
Once the project is complete, people will see what was originally envisioned for the trail, he said.
“Businesses will start asking to open up the fence at the back of their lots to allow people in to their restaurants, or movie theaters or whatever businesses are along that trail,” he said. “That’s the dream that will happen, but it doesn’t happen the minute you put just a ribbon of asphalt down. So, I just hope everyone remembers what we are trying to accomplish and give us just a little more time.”