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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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E. Central leaders looking to rejuvenate neighborhood

Neighborhood leaders in east Spokane are looking for ways to revitalize their older commercial areas while enhancing residential areas that are increasingly under threat from freeway and other transportation projects.

Jerry Numbers, chairman of the East Central Neighborhood Council, on Monday outlined a series of changes envisioned in a yearlong neighborhood planning effort.

The neighborhood plan is expected to go to City Hall in the next few months for action by the Plan Commission and City Council.

The proposal calls for expanding business uses along East Sprague Avenue; allowing a greater mix of businesses and homes on the north side of Interstate 90 between Perry and Altamont streets; building new pedestrian and bicycle paths; and encouraging historic preservation of older homes and businesses.

Numbers outlined the changes in a “town hall” meeting before the City Council on Monday at the East Central Community Center.

The neighborhood plan was developed in conjunction with the Community Colleges of Spokane and Eastern Washington University under a larger federal community development grant. The grant also is paying for job training and business development in East Spokane.

Numbers told the council that plans for building a North Spokane freeway and an expanded Interstate 90 would claim as many as 380 homes and 80 businesses in the neighborhood. A new interchange as well as east-west collector roadways would turn I-90 from a 150-foot-wide roadway to a 600-foot-wide corridor through east Spokane.

Neighborhood planners are recommending that some residential areas near the freeway be opened to a mix of small businesses and residences to give property owners more options for using their parcels.

The plan also calls for a mix of business and residential uses in the area between Freya and Thor streets south of Third Avenue.

Construction began this week on a new arterial system that will change Thor into a one-way southbound and Freya into a one-way northbound between Hartson and Sprague avenues.

Business owners along East Sprague are pushing for expanding the commercial zone along Sprague by a half block on either side of the existing strip.

New trail connections are recommended in the plan between the Ben Burr Trail, Underhill Park, the South Perry Street business district and the Centennial Trail.

“For different parts of the neighborhood there are different interests and different needs,” Numbers said in an interview.

On Monday, council members also heard reports from other South Side neighborhoods.

Pam Behring of the Rockwood Neighborhood Council said a broad neighborhood effort to write a plan for the commercial area at 29th Avenue and Grand Boulevard could result in three different recommendations on how to manage land uses in that area in the future.

Differences emerged during neighborhood meetings over how much commercial and apartment development should be allowed on the north side of 29th Avenue. Residents of the Rockwood Neighborhood have opposed expansion of commercial areas into the south edge of their neighborhood.

Behring also said that heavy traffic is a top issue among residents. “Our neighborhood is burdened with traffic,” she said.

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