Parking lots are necessary, but they aren’t always the prettiest addition to a neighborhood. With that in mind, the Nevada Lidgerwood Neighborhood Council and the Neva-Wood COPS Shop set out to find a way to build a much-needed parking lot without creating an eyesore.
They held a community barbecue Friday evening to celebrate the newly completed parking lot just north of the COPS Shop, on the corner of Wellesley Avenue and Addison Street.
“We got started on this six years ago,” said Dorothy Mehl, community development coordinator with the Nevada Lidgerwood Neighborhood Council. “That’s when we began setting money aside from the community development funds. And we knew we wanted something different.”
The site of the new parking lot once held an older home surrounded by big trees, Mehl explained.
“We wanted to keep the trees, but the city’s arborist gave them all thumbs down,” Mehl said.
They wanted to sell the house to someone who’d move it off the lot, but that didn’t work out either because the house was too fragile.
“We tried to do all the right things, but ultimately had to demolish the house,” Mehl said.
Because the Neva-Wood COPS Shop is in a residential neighborhood, zoning regulations don’t allow a parking lot to be built right up to the street. That’s one of the main reasons why the 14-car lot is surrounded by a perennial border, featuring coneflowers, ornamental grasses and shrubs.
Landscape architect Len Zickler designed the lot and the plantings, so that storm water from the asphalt lot is drained through landscaped swales. The grasses and shrubs filter out harmful chemicals that may come with rainwater from the parking lot.
North of the parking lot is a storm garden, also planted with perennials, designed to take a lot more water during heavy storms.
“When Len Zickler showed us this we went, ‘Yes, yes, this is what we want,’ ” said Mehl, adding that the parking lot is the only one of its kind in Spokane. “We hope it becomes a model for how to do parking lots in an environmentally responsible way.”
Volunteers like Sandy Smith, who works about a day a week at the Neva-Wood COPS Shop, are delighted the parking lot is done.
“We really needed more parking here; we had this tiny lot and it fills up very easily,” Smith said.
A church across the street opened its parking lot to COPS Shop volunteers, but crossing busy Addison Street, especially in the winter, could be difficult.
“Many of our volunteers are elderly, and it was just not a good situation,” Mehl said.
Smith enjoys volunteering and said people come in both from the neighborhood and from out of town.
“There are times where all you do is listen to them voice their fears and concerns,” said Smith. “We are very focused on neighborhood safety and people know the COPS Shop is a good place to come; sometimes they are more comfortable here than at the Police Department.”
Volunteers and neighbors feasted on chili and treats Fridayr Rainy weather moved the party indoors, but the official opening of the lot was still celebrated with a ribbon-cutting between showers.
“As a neighborhood activist you work on so many projects throughout the years,” Mehl said. “There are so many things you never see finished, so to see this done is great. This will not go away.”
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