Spokane Valley children on bikes and in strollers were at the front of the pack Thursday morning waiting for the ribbon to be cut opening the Appleway Trail.
The trail is open from University Road to Pines Road, running along an abandoned railroad right-of-way just south of Sprague Avenue.
Spokane Valley Mayor Dean Grafos and Katherine Morgan, CEO of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, wielded the ceremonial giant scissors that cut the green and blue ribbon.
Grafos told the crowd the trail is a great example of how Spokane Valley and Spokane County can work together. He said he and former county Commissioner Mark Richard came up with the idea for the trail over a cup of coffee.
“The city council embraced the idea and was very supportive,” Grafos said.
The trail is paved and has lights and drinking fountains, but it’s not quite done. When complete it will run from the new city hall on Sprague Avenue and Dartmouth Road, near Balfour Park, to Liberty Lake.
The conceptual design includes community gardens and play areas for children as well as developed landscaping. The unusually hot June and July put a hold on grass seeding.
“More amenities will be added on a pay-as-you-go basis,” Grafos said.
Spokane Valley Public Works Director Eric Guth said the trail hopefully will be done within the next three to four years.
“We have $3.5 million in state and federal funding for the trail already secured,” Guth said.
That includes $1.8 million from the recently approved state capital budget.
Grafos thanked the city staff and elected officials for their support and dedication to the trail project. He also thanked former mayors Diana Wilhite and Tom Towey, as well as state Sen. Mike Padden and state Rep. Matt Shea, who were both there.
Around 10:30 a.m. the first official trail users headed off on a self-guided fun walk – undaunted by the nearly 90-degree heat and lack of shade.
“It’s going to be a great part of our growing parks system,” Grafos said.
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