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Walmart Foundation provides $140,000 to state YMCA chapters including Spokane

Spokane's YMCA is one of seven Washington state chapters that are sharing a combined $140,000 provided through The Walmart Foundation and its Washington State Giving Council for hunger relief.

The contributions were recently announced by Walmart, the nation's largest retailer. The money for the Y chapters are part of an ongoing campaign by the Arkansas-based company to support summer feeding programs in 300 urban and rural communities.

In case you only think negative things about Walmart, consider this: According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Walmart easily exceeds all other U.S. corporations in charitable giving.

According to its most recent list, Walmart tops the list with more than $342 million in giving in 2011. Second was Goldman Sachs with $337 million.

The Washington grants stem from research and studies suggesting that lower-income families often find themselves not providing their children nutritionally complete meals during warmer weather.

Across the entire state, Walmart this year is providing $172,000 to the Y chapters and other groups through its Summer Feeding initiative and another $125,000 through the Walmart State Giving Council, a separate state-specific foundation

Other YMCA  chapters receiving grants are in Auburn, Bothell, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma and Shoreline.

They will share a combined $115,000 Walmart Foundation grant and $25,000 State Giving Council grants to support youth lunch programs.

We found this at the Walmart.com charitable contributions link:

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are in the second year of a $2 billion cash and in-kind hunger relief campaign that extends through 2015. The Foundation’s contributions are strategically aimed at ending hunger for the 1 in 6 Americans that do not know where their next meal is coming from. As such, the Foundation seeks to fund initiatives that integrate hunger relief into our four focus areas (hunger/wellness; education; workforce development; environmental sustainability).

New conservation area opens up in Riverfront Park

Today was a celebration of the "new conservation area" in Riverfront Park without much evidence of the old YMCA building that was demolished amidst controversy.

Was it worth it? The opening of the area is beautiful. I don't miss the old building. It was a blight. I just wish there had been a better funding mechanism to tear down the YMCA other than diverting 4.3 million of Conservation Futures money. That's about $200 a square foot. Plus, the demolition went overbudget and the Spokane Park department is already under enough economic duress.  

After the jump, behold…

YMCA Shortens Name By 3 Letters

Item: YMCA shortens its name by three letters/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR

More Info: Just call it the Y. The venerable YMCA, known by the acronym alone for generations, has rebranded itself with the single letter – a truncation many members already use. “We’re simply using a colloquialism to refer to the same institution that is about the same thing,” said Mary Berry, communications director for YMCA of the Inland Northwest. The rebranding, launched Monday, comes with a more focused message

Question: Have you ever been involved with a YMCA program?

The topsy-turvy politics of Conservation Futures and the YMCA

Spokane park leaders figured in November that the debate about the vacant downtown YMCA was about to end.

After all, the financial analysis demanded by City Council had just been released. It recommended accepting Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to pay off the city’s debt on the building. Councilman Mike Allen said the analysis had persuaded him to support the Park Board’s request to use the money, and Councilman Al French even sponsored the proposal for a council vote.

But opponents of spending Conservation Futures money on the Y successfully delayed action until Allen was replaced on the council by Jon Snyder, and French ended up siding against the resolution he sponsored.

That vote in late November sent the decision into extra innings, and city leaders decided to solicit bids on the property.

Park Board members never expressed much worry about the process. They said their work on the building over the years pointed to a bid process that would result in no proposals that would guarantee full repayment of the city’s debt. That guess turned out to be correct.

The question for supporters of securing the YMCA was finding a fourth vote.

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.

Council changed mind on Conservation Futures for Riverfront Park

First the Spokane City Council supported Conservation Futures, then it didn’t.

At the start of Monday, a majority of the Spokane City Council leaned in favor of accepting Spokane County’s offer to purchase the Riverfront Park YMCA, according to an e-mail Councilman Steve Corker sent to a constituent.

By the end of the day, however, the majority was lost.

So what happened?

It appears Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley successfully convinced at least one council member at a Monday meeting about the Y that a “third option” for paying off the city’s $4.4 million debt was better than using county Conservation Futures property taxes or development proposals that the city received late last month.

That third option isn’t yet defined, but, Cooley said, it could include higher hotel taxes, selling off park land or asking voters for more property taxes. He also reminded council members that the city once had a business and occupation tax to help pay for Expo ’74 improvements.

Responding to an e-mail from constituent Dawn Holladay, Councilman Steve Corker wrote on Monday afternoon: “I am in favor of using Conservation Futures monies for this site. I plan on voting the same this evening.”

(Not that the City Council could have voted for anything at the YMCA meeting because it was scheduled only for discussion.)

After Cooley’s presentation at the meeting, Corker appeared to have changed his mind.

Complete Streets Spokane

Now’s the time to become familiar with Complete Streets.

There’s a growing movement in Spokane to institute a complete streets policy for all users—- including pedestrians of all ages and abilities, bicyclists, and public transportation—-in an effort to increase safety and awareness.

Yesterday the Spokesman had an article about Dave Robertson who was hit while crossing Second Avenue and Monroe Street. He posted about the incident at Rings and Things where we works and was returning from. “Pedestrians get this all the time. Drivers only see other vehicles – they don’t look for people, they look for cars,” Robertson said in the S-R. “I have had countless near-misses in the last calendar year alone, walking and biking downtown.”

DTE had some close calls too and we’re not alone. Two years ago, crossing Monroe and Main—-one of the most dangerous, congested intersections in the city—-we were pushed by a driver late for class and pounded on the hood until they stopped. We were lucky.

County gives city deadline on YMCA deal

 If you build it, they will come. Right? Well, that’s sort of true in this case. All said building needs is an innovative developer for renovation—-we heard a green job training center, rooftop dining—-and, yes, money.

Spokane County Commissioners voted 2-1 to wait four months before taking away their offer to use Conservation Futures for the $4.3 million debt the city owes on the old YMCA building. The delay is a Hail Mary for the city to turn the space into either a residential or commercial development. In the Spokesman-Review, Commissioner Todd Mielke called the four-month extension “a challenge to the private sector.”

“If you’ve got a proposal, it’s time to bring it forward,” Mielke said. “So far, the few that we have received have lacked detail and have not been committed to a formal proposal.” Full article here.

We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.

City creates bidding process before tearing down the YMCA


At last night’s epic City Council meeting—-it was 10:30pm when DTE escaped—-the fate of the old YMCA building once again remained uncertain. It could be the most expensive acre in eastern Washington as the City still has a $4.3 million debt lingering on the property while dealing with a 2010 budget deficit. Spokane County agreed to assist with the tab through Conservation Futures which means demolition of the building and creating an open space, offering more Riverfront Park availability.

But after developer Ron Wells testified a viable option would be for a long term lease, hopefully creating a mixed use building with offices and apartments, the city, between a rock and a hard place, came to a tentative agreement with Council President Joe Shogan throwing in a last minute provision approved by the City Council. The agreement states renovation requires the city to begin a bidding process to ask for development ideas before accepting the county’s offer to use Conservation Futures funds for the purchase. The council voted 4 to 2 for the provision—-Bob Apple, Al French, Steve Corker, and Shogan in favor, Richard Rush and Jon Snyder opposed since the latter two wanted to see development. (Where was Nancy McLaughlin for such an important vote?) By last count, the city has a year to find a developer before accessing the county dollars. Full story HERE.

Another Green Monday Quick Hits from the S-R

What to do with the downtown YMCA building? There is a quagmire of a situation brewing in Riverfront Park over what to do with the old YMCA building. County commissioners have to decide whether to use property taxes collected through the Conservation Futures program to buy the building and turn it into a natural area or to walk away and lose money on the deal. Read more HERE and count on DTE following this story closely. Local ski areas commit to sustainability - a no-brainer right? Schweitzer recently announced it was joining 49 Degrees North, Mt. Spokane and Lookout Pass by formally endorsing the National Ski Area Association’s (NSSA) Sustainable Slopes initiative, “a framework for improving the environmental performance of the ski industry.” By buying wind energy credits, improving fuel efficiency on grooming, and studying smart growth, local areas are looking at ways to protect the basis of their industry, the earth. Read more HERE.