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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Getting There: Kendall Yards park to serve as stormwater filter

Water that runs off parking lots and down street gutters carries drops of oil, bits of metal, de-icer chemicals and tire residue, among other pollutants.

Some of that dirty water runs into the Spokane River.

The city of Spokane earlier this month announced a major effort to divert stormwater as part of its mandated, multimillion-dollar cleanup of the river.

Now, a public-private partnership between the city and the developer of Kendall Yards is being launched to divert a portion of the city’s street runoff.

The project this spring is seen as a blueprint for future cleanup work.

The city is going to dig up Monroe Street just north of the river and install pipes that will carry stormwater from the street to an underground retention tank on Kendall Yards land just west of Monroe.

The street is expected to be closed for two weeks in June.

Currently, untreated runoff on Monroe between the river and Broadway Avenue dumps directly into the river. The project will solve that problem, leaving the river a little cleaner.

At the same time, Kendall Yards is required to dispose of its stormwater on-site, as all new developments are under modern land-use rules.

But there is too much bedrock on the eastern end of the development to allow that water to seep into the ground.

Doug Desmond, a civil engineer for Greenstone Corp., which is building Kendall Yards, has searched around the country for innovative ways to dispose of stormwater. Desmond helped come up with a plan that will pump stormwater more than a mile to the west, where a new park is being built.

The $1.6 million project is being financed jointly by the city, the state and Kendall Yards. Completion is expected in 2014.

The two-acre park, to be known as Olmsted Green in Kendall Yards, is being designed so that excess stormwater will flow across the grass during major storms or snowmelt in a terrace-like design.

Small grass-lined retention basins will gather the water initially, allowing the turf to process contaminants. Any excess water will flow passively out of the basins and onto the grass. That water will be relatively clean and not a health concern, officials said.

Sand beneath the park will absorb the water readily, said Jason Wheaton, Greenstone president.

The public will hardly know it’s a stormwater facility: “There’s no reason they can’t be dual-use facilities,” Wheaton said.

In addition, a more conventional dry well will be installed in another part of the development to absorb stormwater.

Across the Inland Northwest, Greenstone has applied creative thinking in other ways. A pond at 44th Avenue and Regal Street has become a popular amenity for terrace dining. Other locations with dual-use facilities are at the Montrose development in Post Falls, Half Moon Park on the north side of Liberty Lake, and Coeur d’Alene Place near Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene.

Storm gardens were installed by the city in 2010 along Lincoln Street south of 17th Avenue. The gardens cleanse the water, while the excess runoff is piped into the pond at Cannon Hill Park.

Mike Taylor, the city’s director of engineering services, is taking on a new role in overseeing development of stormwater diversion and is a proponent of projects like the one at Kendall Yards. Residential areas are likely to see more such projects in coming years, he said.

Coal emissions calculated

The proposed expansion of U.S. coal exports through the Pacific Northwest would produce 420 million tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2020, according to a report released last week by Greenpeace.

That would cause more carbon pollution than any other new fossil fuel development project in the U.S. and add to dangers of global warming, Greenpeace said.

Heat waves, drought and storms such as Superstorm Sandy last fall are an outgrowth of global warming, the organization said.

Companies are seeking to move Powder River Basin coal from Wyoming and Montana to five proposed ports in Oregon and Washington, the report said. A large portion of that coal is being shipped by rail through Sandpoint and Spokane.

The Greenpeace report follows a report by the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, a coal port advocacy group, which said a poll showed strong support for coal port shipping among Washington residents.

Enforcement on Monroe Road

A traffic safety project on 11 miles of Monroe Road in north Spokane County has led sheriff’s deputies to issue 92 infractions from October through December, including 48 for speeding and one for impaired driving.

The enforcement was part of a broader effort to reduce fatalities and serious accidents along that stretch of two-lane road, on which there have been five fatalities in the past four years. Speed is considered a contributing factor in the crashes.

Road improvements were also planned.

The project is financed through a grant to the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force, which is trying to eliminate all traffic deaths. The grant came from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Snow safety steps advised

Kootenai County fire officials are reminding residents to keep snow cleared away from fire hydrants. Also, streets and driveways need to be plowed with a wide enough path for emergency vehicles. Residents can help by parking off the street when plows are expected.