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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Gondola could get $2.5 million overhaul

The Spokane Park Board took action Thursday that opens the door to a $2.5 million reconstruction this year of the gondola in Riverfront Park.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution declaring an international company with a subsidiary in Golden, Colo., as the only source available to provide the proposed upgrades. Work could be completed as early as this summer.

Craig Butz, manager at Riverfront Park, said plans call for replacing all of the existing ride equipment, which was a combination of a 1960s-era ski lift and cars built for Expo ‘74. The upgrade includes construction of a new terminal just east of the existing terminal. The ride has been closed during reconstruction of the Monroe Street Bridge.

Dopplemayr CTEC is a subsidiary of a German manufacturer of ski lifts, gondolas and urban transportation systems.

Park board member Steve McNutt said Dopplemayr is the only company in the world that can fulfill Spokane’s need for a new gondola ride.

In the past, the gondola has been a moneymaker for Riverfront Park. In 2002, the most recent year it operated, the ride produced $150,000 in net revenue for the park.

The new ride would include 15 gondola cars that would seat six each. It would be handicapped-accessible and would have sound systems built into each car. The inner walls of each car would be fully glassed to provide better views of the falls and river, Butz said.

Financing for the work is expected to come from a City Council bond issue.

Admission prices for the ride are expected to increase for teens and adults but drop for children. The park charged $4.75 for all riders on the old gondola. City staffers have proposed fees of $4 for children 12 and under; $5 for children ages 13 through 17, seniors and military personnel; and $6 for adults.

‘Polar Express’ extended

In other business, the park board increased its budget to extend its showing of the IMAX film “The Polar Express,” which drew capacity audiences to the park during the holiday period last month. As of the end of December, the movie had netted an additional $120,000 in revenue to the city over the amount that was originally budgeted.

The movie has been extended through Jan. 31.

On Thursday, the park board approved adding $60,000 to its expense budget to pay its obligations under the contract with the movie producer. It was the third time the board has increased the budget for the movie.

“The Polar Express,” a computer animated film, was released in the IMAX Theater at the same time it appeared in regular movie houses. Butz said Spokane’s IMAX is expected to get more new-feature releases in 2005, including “Robots” in March and the latest “Star Wars” production tentatively scheduled for May.

“The Polar Express” was digitally remastered into the IMAX format.

The park board also set Feb. 10 as a date for public hearing on a proposal to begin charging children $1 a session for swimming in the summer. Each pool would have one free session each week.

Board members said they may schedule an evening meeting to take public testimony. Approval of a new fee schedule could come as early as Feb. 10.

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