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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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SYSA plans for sports complex at 37th and Glenrose needs project permits, faces neighborhood concerns

UPDATED: Thu., May 24, 2018

Prairie View Community Park, a county facility, has a baseball and softball diamond, beach volleyball courts, pickleball courts, a basketball court and a playground, in addition to the Southside Family Aquatic Center, situated between Freya and the Palouse Highway, south of 61st Ave., shown Friday, May 18, 2018 in Spokane County. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Prairie View Community Park, a county facility, has a baseball and softball diamond, beach volleyball courts, pickleball courts, a basketball court and a playground, in addition to the Southside Family Aquatic Center, situated between Freya and the Palouse Highway, south of 61st Ave., shown Friday, May 18, 2018 in Spokane County. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The 20 vacant acres on the southeast corner of 37th Avenue and Glenrose Road are under new ownership, but a sports complex is still planned for the site.

The property was originally purchased from Morning Star Boys Ranch by South Spokane Little League. The surrounding neighborhood came out strongly against the project, and the league struggled to raise money for the project. Spokane County property records show the land was sold to the Spokane Youth Sports Association in 2016 for $476,000, nearly $100,000 less than what the league paid for it.

The plan was to create Little League fields, but SYSA plans to build a multiuse sports complex, said SYSA executive director Philip Helean. Despite the new baseball fields at Prairie View Park, there is still a huge need for playing fields on the South Hill, Helean said.

“We just keep getting more and more registrations,” he said. “It’s hard to find space for kids.”

It’s so bad that Ferris High School students have to travel to Hillyard to use Andrew Rypien Field, which SYSA owns, for practice, Helean said. “There’s just a huge need in Spokane,” he said.

SYSA wants to include soccer, baseball and softball and multipurpose fields in the complex. “You could use it for football or lacrosse or rugby,” he said. “We’re still putting plans together. We’re just in the fundraising process.”

SYSA was able to purchase the property because of a $500,000 donation, Helean said. “A donor gave us that money as a gift to SYSA,” he said. “Basically that property was a gift to SYSA.”

South Spokane Little League representative Brian Gosline declined to comment about the sale.

The Glenrose Community Association has been vocal in its opposition to the sports complex since it was first proposed, expressing concerns about a sports complex in their rural neighborhood, and the noise, light and increased traffic on rural county roads it would bring.

“Traffic on the South Hill is a real challenge,” said Glenrose Community Association President Bob Hyslop. “We’ve got a lot of concerns.”

One of those concerns is the proposed stadium lighting at the complex to allow night games. “How in the world can somebody justify lighting up this area like that?” Hyslop said. “It’s just totally out of character. People up here are livid about it.”

They expect noise from cheering fans to also be an issue. “We sit in a bowl, so the noise reverberates all over the place,” he said.

Both Glenrose and 37th Avenue are two-lane roads without shoulders and Hyslop said he’s worried about the intersection becoming overwhelmed by traffic. “We have county roads,” he said. “They’re going to have to be changed significantly.”

Helean said his organization needs to raise $6.5 million to begin construction. “We’re working with donors to build a much-needed facility for kids,” he said. “We’ve got all the permits. Everything’s been approved.”

A check of the documents on file with the Spokane County planning office, however, show that no permits have been granted since a grading permit was approved in 2010.

Asked to clarify his comment, Helean said he meant to say that the zoning for the property has been approved, though he acknowledged that no zoning change has been sought.

“The county is fine with us developing a sports complex there,” he said.

SYSA had a pre-application meeting with Spokane County planners last fall and was given a list of requirements to fulfill, including doing a traffic study. Roads in the area would also have to be widened and improved, the county stated.

No permits will be issued until the required studies are complete, and Helean said he does not know when those requirements will be met.

Helean said he just wants to create playfields that are needed in the community. “We’re excited to provide new sports opportunities for kids,” he said. “It’s definitely needed in the community. Kids who play sports do better in school and do better in life.”

Despite the conflict that has existed, Hyslop said his group is willing to work with SYSA on planning the complex so it creates a lesser impact.

“I think it’s both in our best interests to do that,” he said. “It’s their property and within the boundary of the county codes, they can do what they like. I think there will be something there. The $64 question is, what will it look like?”

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