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

Park Board to vote on conducting study for saving amusement rides

FILE - A Berry Go Round amusement ride opened on a pond portion of the Skate Ribbon in Riverfront Park in May. The Park Board voted Thursday to study bringing more rides back to the park, but they wouldn’t be the same rides that once were housed in the U.S. Pavilion. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Park Board will be asked Thursday to set aside $25,000 to study whether the amusement rides that once filled the U.S. Pavilion should return on the park’s north bank after the redevelopment is completed.

Former Riverfront Park Director Hal McGlathery has launched a campaign in hopes of maintaining the rides, many of which were purchased for the park in the 1980s.

For the past two years, McGlathery has gathered 75 emails from park goers who wrote to City Hall voicing their support to save the rides.

“When has there ever been an issue that’s drawn more emails than that?” he said.

Rides hadn’t been included in the 2014 master plan guiding the park’s redevelopment due to cost and concern they wouldn’t match the design of the new park.

“The rides don’t support the feel of the park’s master plan,” said Leroy Eadie, Director of Parks & Recreation. He said that most cutting edge parks aren’t featuring amusement rides, but are moving toward event-based entertainment.

The Park Board had previously voted to save just three of the remaining rides for placement in the redeveloped park.

The resolution Thursday would call for a two-month study of the rides’ feasibility in the new park, as the city has not found any buyers to date for the attractions. The resolution proposes an area near the planned regional playground on the park’s north bank as a potential location for the rides. The “Berry-Go-Round” ride was installed on the skating ribbon in May.

There are about 10 or 12 rides that McGlathery wants saved, including the Dragon Roller Coaster that seats about 22 kids.

McGlathery’s proposal, forwarded with assistance from Chris Wright, a Park Board member, was approved on a 4-1 vote by a committee of the Park Board overseeing Riverfront Park’s redevelopment. The full Park Board will consider the proposal at its meeting 3:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

The rides are now under a tarp near the central park maintenance building, McGlathery said, and they’re in need of a fix-up.

“It’s all about affordable family entertainment,” he said. “The north bank is the last stand for the rides.”

Will Campbell contributed reporting to this article.