Spokane Valley was considering six different sidewalk projects that may qualify for 2017 Community Development Block Grant funding. Tuesday evening, it was narrowed down to two projects: A sidewalk on the north side of Eighth Avenue between Dickey and Thierman roads, and a sidewalk on the north side of Mission Avenue between Bates and Union roads.
Spokane Valley typically gets about $270,000 or 20 percent of the Community Development Block Grants allocated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to Spokane County.
Last year, a proposed sidewalk along Blake Road set off a storm of criticism, first from residents on Blake who were opposed to the sidewalk, and then from critics of the Spokane Valley City Council who accused Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard of giving away the Valley’s share of the federal funding – nearly $300,000.
Some accused Woodard of acting without the approval of the City Council when he supported giving money to infrastructure projects in smaller municipalities, rather than to sidewalks in Spokane Valley.
Woodard maintains he did nothing wrong and that he voted against funding the Blake sidewalk because “the citizens didn’t want it.”
At last week’s council meeting Woodard offered to “try and get some of the money back that was lost last year” and reiterated that his vote was approved by the council.
Spokane Valley is guaranteed 20 percent of the county’s CDBG funds – the only municipality in the county with such a promise – but its projects must go through the same application process and meet the same standards as other projects. Spokane Valley is also the only municipality allowed to use CDBG funds for sidewalks, a condition that was negotiated in 2012.
Woodard, who represents Spokane Valley on the county board that allocates CDBG funds, said he expects applications for somewhere between 18 and 36 projects seeking more than $3 million in funding, but only about $1.1 million available. Projects must be located in residential, low- to moderate-income areas.
These were the projects suggested for funding by Spokane Valley:
Sidewalk on the north side of Eighth Avenue between Dickey and Thierman roads, $522,000
Sidewalk on Eighth Avenue between Eastern and Thierman roads, $348,000
Sidewalk on Eighth Avenue between Eastern and Dickey roads, $174,000
Sidewalk on the north side of Mission Avenue between Bates and Union roads, $285,000
Sidewalk on the north side of Indiana Avenue between Pines Road and Mirabeau Park, $230,000
Sidewalk on the west side of Flora Road from Sprague Avenue to Broadway Avenue, $538,000
Councilman Sam Wood said he’d very much like to see sidewalks along Eighth Avenue.
“It makes a good choice and we would have a great chance of getting the money,” Wood said.
Woodard agreed, saying he especially likes the stretch on Eighth Avenue between Thierman to Eastern roads.
“It’s an area that is in great need of sidewalks,” Woodard said, adding that many elderly people live in that area and have no place to walk safely.
The Mission Avenue project also had broad support.
Woodard said that he still believes water and sewer projects in smaller towns should have priority over sidewalks in Spokane Valley, because that infrastructure is more essential for people’s survival than sidewalks.
“But I will try to get our projects first,” Woodard said.
Final funding will not be announced until March or April.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.