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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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City asks for public input on where to locate new water tower on South Hill

Spokane is planning to build a 100-foot-tall water tower on the South Hill, potentially in Hamblen Park.  (COLIN MULVANY/Spokesman-Review)
Spokane is planning to build a 100-foot-tall water tower on the South Hill, potentially in Hamblen Park. (COLIN MULVANY/Spokesman-Review)

The city of Spokane is set on building a new water tank on the South Hill, but will ask residents for input on its precise location.

City officials plan to release a survey in the coming weeks allowing participants to rank their favorite spots among a pool of finalists.

Although the survey has yet to be finalized, the choices are expected to include Hamblen Park.

When the park was presented as a top choice last year, some residents quickly voiced strong opposition to the possibility of a 100-foot-tall tower intruding on the mostly untouched natural landscape on 37th Avenue between Crestline and Napa streets.

The other choices will likely include 31st and Napa, or “shoehorning” a new tank onto the site of an existing reservoir at Garden Park on 37th and Stone Street, according to Kyle Twohig, director of engineering in the city’s Public Works Department.

The survey will include information about each location, including relative costs and attributes.

Twohig outlined the plans during a meeting of the Spokane City Council’s Public Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting on Monday. The survey will be nonbinding and the results will be one of many factors considered by city officials.

“We’re just hoping to get some real widespread feedback,” Twohig said.

The council will need to sign off on the final plan. If the choice is Hamblen Park, which was last estimated to cost about $5 million, the city also will need the approval of the Park Board.

The cost of the project will be borne by utility ratepayers.

The city has recognized the need for a new South Hill tank, which will ensure adequate pressure during peak summer use and emergencies, since at least 2008. It will serve residents and businesses south of 14th Avenue.

The criteria for a suitable location are that the site be relatively flat, near water transmission lines and at an elevation of at least 2,380 feet. It also must be near the center of the South Hill region it will serve.

Hamblen Park was identified as the city’s favorite in no small part because it is the cheapest option. The property is owned by the city, so it would not have to spend money buying it, and it is relatively flat.

The former lead contender, a patch of land at 31st and Napa near the Touchmark on South Hill assisted living facility, is sloped and closer to residences. It also sits atop basalt, raising its elevation but also posing a challenge for construction.

“We’ve got to hammer a lot of rock to make that work, so it comes with a challenge and a benefit,” Twohig said.

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