Spokane Valley is planning more than $1.1 million in improvements to Browns Park that include landscaping, a walking path with lighting, a restroom and picnic shelters.
The improvements will follow addition of eight volleyball courts, which are slated for completion this year.
Spokane Valley drafted the Browns Park Master Plan in 2014, and since then, it added seven new sand volleyball courts, one championship volleyball court, a basketball court and a splash pad.
Future improvements in the Browns Park Master Plan include further expansion of volleyball courts, more picnic shelters, playground equipment, restrooms, renovation of an existing sand volleyball court, skate area, new fencing, increased landscaping, renovations to a storage building and parking lot resurfacing on the southeast side of the park.
The city is continuing its partnership with the Evergreen Region Volleyball Association to provide volleyball events at Browns Park. The association is working with the city to expand the courts and create “a premier outdoor volleyball venue in the Valley.”
Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone asked the City Council members about features they want to pursue – or discard – for the park at an Oct. 16 council meeting.
Stone said the city budgeted $1.1 million for the 2019 park improvements, but a recent change in state prevailing wages for landscape construction employees would drive the construction cost up to $1.3 million.
Spokane Valley City Councilman Ben Wick said the park improvements are a great proposal, but he wanted to leave all amenities in the plan to illustrate an example of a project that can’t fully be completed because of the prevailing wage issue.
“I know our dollars don’t expire like the state grants do. There’s nothing that says we have to expend it first thing in 2019, while we would like to,” he said. “Maybe we just hold off and use this an a example to the state for a project that’s held up now because of the prevailing wage issue.
“It’s unfortunate that we had the increase for prevailing wage, and I’d like to leave it as is with the thought that we can’t move forward until we resolve the prevailing wage issue,” he added.
Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard said the prevailing wage issue is directed by the state Legislature, and it’s unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
“I don’t see that issue being resolved short of a turnover (in Legislature) and, even then, a turnover of the Legislature is not going to guarantee that they are going to go back and retroactively change it,” he said. “I don’t see it happening.”
Council members discussed removing plans to expand a parking lot northwest of the park to cut costs.
Woodard said there are 400 to 500 spaces across the street at University High School that could potentially be used and if there are proper signage and rules – then parking shouldn’t be an issue.
“We have lots of asphalt across the street,” he said. “Why do we cover our parks in asphalt when we have lots and lots and lots of parking?”
Spokane Valley City Councilman Sam Wood said having adequate parking is critical.
“For most businesses, it’s parking that makes businesses successful and making parking convenient certainly is going to make this much more successful,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to cut anything with parking, and I like everything proposed here, so I would agree we leave it as it is.”
Spokane Valley Councilwoman Pam Haley suggested pursuing funding for the walking path and lighting through an Americans with Disabilities Act grant and requested forgoing parking lot improvements.
Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Brandi Peetz also agreed to forgo parking lot improvements, along with a request that the city addresses parking at University High School before amenities are installed at the park.
Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Linda Thompson advocated pursuing grant funds and park improvements.
“I like the idea of moving forward and at the same time applying for the grants to find funding for the path and really having it be a park accessible for everyone, so that wheelchairs can come and there’s activities and things you can do for all,” she said.
City Council members opted to pursue landscaping and grant funds for the perimeter path as well as considering an agreement with University High School to add parking signs.
City Council plans to add a request in its 2019 legislative agenda for close to $500,000 to pay for park amenities, which will be discussed at a future meeting.
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