In the next two weeks, Spokane voters must make a serious choice about the future of our city’s streets and Riverfront Park. We have jointly penned this guest column to show our mutual support for a common vision for our community. Spokane voter ballots will include a proposed street levy and park bond designed to make substantial improvements in our streets and Riverfront Park, all without raising taxes. We strongly encourage you to vote yes for both.
Spokane’s original street bond, approved by voters in 2004, has been largely successful and popular. The bond committed $117 million over a 10-year period to rebuilding 110 miles of streets within the city limits. Street bond projects have frequently run below cost and ahead of schedule, allowing our tax dollars to go further; rebuilding more streets than anticipated. The currently proposed street levy extends this effort for a 20-year period to continue making massive progress on Spokane’s road infrastructure.
We were both raised in post-Expo Spokane. In the years leading up to Expo ’74, the voters committed to investing in Spokane to showcase our community to the world. We were the beneficiaries of our parents’ investments in our town. We grew up with a beautiful new Riverfront Park – the gem at the heart of Spokane – and now enjoy taking our families and friends there. Riverfront Park remains Spokane’s top attraction for visitors to our area, outpacing shopping, dining and entertainment. However, over the past 40 years Riverfront Park has seen few major changes, and is long overdue for a makeover.
The street levy will provide up to $25 million annually for our streets, and the park bond will generate a $60 million one-time investment in Riverfront Park. Both of these revenue streams come at no increase to the cost we pay today – 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
If passed, the street levy will provide 20 years’ worth of major road rebuilds with the ultimate goal of replacing all of Spokane’s 266 miles of arterials. The first two years of levy projects will include East Sprague Avenue, South Ray Street and West Rowan Avenue. By restructuring the city’s debt, we face an incredible investment opportunity where we will see decades of road improvements at no additional cost to taxpayers.
Riverfront Park will remain Spokane’s top attraction for many years to come if we commit ourselves to improving it. Among many other enhancements, the plan for Riverfront Park includes a new north-south promenade that connects the north bank to downtown; a refurbished, multiuse pavilion, including a new cover for the pavilion and strategic use of lighting or projected imagery; a new and improved home for the Looff Carrousel; updated and expanded park infrastructure, including signage, lighting, sound, pathways and improved views; and relocation of the Ice Palace to the Gondola Meadow on Spokane Falls Boulevard.
As you fill out your ballot, please consider what kind of a city we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. This is our generation’s opportunity to bring new life and energy to Spokane, just as we did before Expo ’74. Spokane is a beautiful town, and it’s our town. Let’s choose to make it the City of Choice for many years to come.
Thank you for your consideration and commitment to our community, and please vote “yes” for the street levy and park bond by Nov. 4.
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