The Spokane Park Board hit pause Thursday on future plans to honor King Cole in Riverfront Park, asking a committee of volunteers for more details on potential monuments to the civic booster seen as the “father” of Expo ‘74.
At its monthly virtual meeting, the panel did not forward a single item on a list of five potential commemorative actions, including the renaming of the Howard Street promenade to “King Cole Way” and artwork intended to honor Cole. The inaction means another committee of civic boosters, including elected officials, past park officials and others, will need to return to the board with more concrete ideas.
“That’s often how this process goes,” Park Board President Jennifer Ogden said on Friday. Ogden made the motion asking for approval of the five features, including a statue of the late Cole. “We send it back down to committee, for them to go into a little more in depth. That process bounces back and forth.”
Park board members said Thursday they were concerned that the statute and a proposed “frieze,” a type of horizontal sculpture, would be duplicative.
“I was surprised at just the amount of projects that resulted from that,” said Kevin Brownlee, a park board member, after reviewing the list of items proposed to be built. “It almost feels like we’re rebuilding the Spokane pavilion, more than recognizing King Cole.”
They also wanted more information on what a statue of the man would look like and where it would go before deciding whether it was appropriate to raise money for the project.
“I think it’s a little dangerous asking for money for things that we haven’t approved as possible things,” said Nick Sumner, a park board member. He said it appeared that Thursday’s vote would be “putting the cart before the horse a little bit.”
Hal McGlathery, the former manager of Riverfront Park who has been a vocal proponent for a statue of Cole, said Thursday’s meeting was frustrating, but that the work would continue to refine art ideas to honor him.
“We’ve got a red light from the Park Board at this point,” McGlathery said.
But Ogden said that light might not be permanent, and that there would still be time to approve ideas and raise money ahead of the 50th anniversary of the world’s fair in 2024.
“We have two years and nine months. We do have time,” she said. “We want to get it right.”
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