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Spokane to close its IMAX at end of year

The IMAX at Riverfront Park only will be open for six months.

The Spokane Park Board on Thursday voted unanimously to close the theater after Dec. 31.

It will open for six months in the spring. Park officials estimated that shortening the schedule would save about $90,000.

Term limits, condemnation among 11 items to be decided by Spokane voters on August ballot

City voters soon will have 11 choices to make about the future of city governing.

The Spokane City Council decided Monday to place proposed changes to the City Charter on Aug. 16 ballot.

Officials say the purpose of most of them is to clarify contradictions in existing law or are minor in nature. Still, some changes could make noticeable impacts on city governance and one already has been opposed by the Spokane Park Board.

The most controversy Monday came from a proposal to strip the Park Board’s power to condemn property.

The City Charter currently requires the City Council to condemn land for park acquisition if requested by the Park Board and the board and land owner were unable to come to a “satisfactory arrangement” for compensation. The proposed change that voters will consider will give the City Council the power to turn down Park Board condemnation requests.

Park leaders say the move as a power grab by the council and a move against its independent authority over park policy granted to them by voters more than a century ago. Park Director Leroy Eadie said the board has had condemnation ability since 1910 and has rarely, if ever, used it.

“There is no reason to believe that the current Park Board or future boards will be any less responsible or that it will recklessly exercise its condemnation authority,” said Park Director Leroy Eadie in a letter to the council. He added that “in the coming years circumstance may require use of this power to further develop Riverfront Park, the North Bank or other properties in its inventory.”

The vote to add the park item to the ballot was a rare 4-3 vote in which council members Jon Snyder and Richard Rush were joined by Nancy McLaughlin. (The fourth vote was provided by Steve Corker.)

Snyder and McLaughlin argued that only elected officials should have the power to condemn property from unwilling sellers.

“It’s an important check and balance we need in a strong mayor form of government,” Snyder said.

Tree advocate nominated for Spokane Park Board

An advocate for improving the city’s urban forest has been nominated by Mayor Mary Verner to serve on the Spokane Park Board.

Susan M. Ross Traver, a board member of Spokane Preservation Advocates, was selected from a dozen people considered for the job, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.

The Park Board interviewed four of the applicants and selected two finalists, including Ross Traver, for Verner to consider, Park Board President Ross Kelley said.

Ross Traver is the secretary for a citizens advisory group that advises the Urban Forestry Committee, which is made up of Park Board members.

The Spokane Park Board has the final say on park spending and policy. The City Charter also gives the board authority over trees along roads and on other public property, but some park officials have complained that they don’t have the money to do an adequate job maintaining street trees.

“I can bring a different voice concerning that issue,” Ross Traver said in a phone interview. She added: “It’s not the only thing I’m interested in.”

Direction on YMCA becoming more uncertain

(First, because it’s not from our newspaper archives, I should start with information about the photo: It shows the Howard Street bridge and Havermale and Canada islands, sometime before 1927. There is vacant land southwest of the bridge where the downtown YMCA would be built in the mid-1960s. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane.)

It looks like March 22 will be the date the public will get to weigh in on the future of the Riverfront Park YMCA.

City Council President Joe Shogan announced that a public hearing will be scheduled for that date, though he added it could be delayed until March 29.

Councilman Steve Corker, who said earlier this week that it appeared that a majority of the council did not support the acceptance of Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to acquire the Riverfront Park YMCA, now says an outcome is unclear.

Spokane Park Board endorses Verner’s pick, Leroy Eadie, for park director

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has opted not to make another change in the leadership of the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.

After firing one director in 2007 and forcing the resignation of another late year, Verner has nominated interim Park Director Leroy Eadie to take the position.

On Thursday, the Spokane Park Board unanimously voted to endorse her recommendation. The Spokane City Council will have the final say. Verner appointed Eadie the interim park director in October after she asked then-Director Barry Russell to resign the post.

The Mobius Project dies on the vine…

Good evening, Netizens…

Let us look at the history of Mobius in retrospect for a moment. While the announcement much earlier today that the rocky marriage between the Spokane Park Board and Mobius was ending effective immediately, its failure demonstrates quite clearly the power of the Internet. For, without the groundswell of public dissension and controversy surrounding the Mobius Project, perhaps it would have gone forward, a flawed and dangerous precedent for the City of Spokane.

There were a multitude of questions surrounding not only the lease agreement, which would essentially pose questions of illegal gifting of public lands, but agreements being made in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.

Were it not for the persistence and research done by a handful of ordinary citizens interested in the truth, the flawed agreement between Mobius and the Spokane Park Board might have moved forward.

This is not to suggest that Mobius is not still viable nor even desireable, no. It is just now that it is free-standing, not bound to the City of Spokane or its Park Board. For a better history and understanding of the issues involved, please read http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/dec/18/mobius-and-city-part-ways/ written by Shawn Vestal of the Spokesman-Review.


Park Board on dawn patrol

Most mornings around 7 a.m., Manito Park is the province of joggers, dog walkers and ducks on “dawn patrol” for healthy eats because the “do not feed” signs have cut back their junk food. But about once a month, it’s the site of a special meeting of the Spokane Park Board.

Some of these 7 a.m. special meetings are almost completely closed to the public. The board convenes, votes to go into executive session, which is the polite term for ordering the public out and shutting the door, and talks about stuff until it comes out of executive session and adjourns.

Stuff like contracts and purchases. Stuff that the public, which for nearly a century has given the Park Board some 8 percent of the city’s general fund, will eventually pay for. To be fair, before the Board actually votes to spend the money, it will hold a public meeting at which the public might come and say “Hey, great idea” or “Bad move, buck-o.” The public gets a second say if the issue comes to the City Council.

Executive sessions are nothing new. The state Open Meetings Law says a body may shut out the public and go behind closed doors for certain things. (Note: The law says “may” not “shall” so these sessions are optional, but it’s rare when a board’s attorney says “What the heck, let the public hear what you’re thinking because, after all, it’s their money.”)

What may be considered unusual about the Park Board, however, is the time and place: 7 a.m., at the Manito Park Garden Center Meeting Room. Not quite, as one critic described, “in the maintenance building next to the flower display,” but not a known landmark like City Hall.

That’s where the board could have been found last Monday, talking about…

And the Good News is…

More sunshine, just in time for my lobster bisque look to deepen to ruby red. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/may/27/expect-sunny-weather-all-week/

And the Spokane Park Board approved discount passes for frequent pool users: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/may/27/park-board-approves-discount-pool-passes/

Where’s your favorite place to swim?

When the smoke clears in the parks

The Spokane Park Board has banned smoking in city parks.. Sort of.

It might change its mind next Thursday after a public hearing on whether to ban smoking in city parks…But don’t count on it.

If the ban holds, a person who lights up in a city park might get the evil eye, or maybe a good talking to from someone who disapproves… But there won’t be any tickets or fines.

Here’s what’s going on, as best as anyone can tell…

More than a walk in the park

The City of Spokane is looking to fill two spots on the Park Board. For those unfamiliar with the way the city works (or doesn’t work), the Park Board is arguably the most powerful unelected body around.

The city, by its charter, has to set aside a chunk of its general fund every year for parks. (Thank the city grandfathers and the Olmstead Brothers for that one.) It has 10 appointed members, and they serve five-year terms, with the option of being reappointed once. There’s at least a meeting a month, plus subcommittees. Along with Parks like Riverfront, the Arboretum and Manito, the Park Board also oversees the four municipal golf courses, swimming pools and other facilities.

Might be interested? Click here for more details.

Want to fill out an app right now? Click here to get to an application.