Construction is on track to start next year for a new 100-foot-tall water tower next to Hamblen Park.
The Spokane City Council voted Monday night to enter into an easement with Spokane Public Schools to make way for the tower on a portion of the Hamblen Elementary School property. Construction is scheduled to start around next spring and continue until fall 2024.
The Spokane School Board moved late last month to approve the city’s request for the easement.
Capable of holding up to 2 million gallons of water, the 100-foot-tall, 90- to 100-foot-wide tower will sit on a concrete base pedestal 50 to 60 feet in diameter at the northeast corner of the Hamblen school lot.
The tower, which will serve residents south of 14th Avenue, will address what city officials have identified as a longtime need for a new water tank on the South Hill to provide adequate pressure during peak summer use, and in case of fire or other emergencies.
“We’re able to maintain right now, but this is an opportunity to get ahead of the situation,” said Spokane Public Works spokesperson Kirstin Davis. “As more development and infill happens, that’s all just planning ahead.”
The City Council approved the measure Monday with a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Michael Cathcart opposed. Cathcart could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The site at 39th and Crestline was selected following a public poll of possible locations conducted by the city last year. In that poll, 56% of respondents supported the Hamblen Elementary site.
From there, the city will go through the design process, after which the project will go out to bid likely later this year for construction, Davis said.
“At this point, we’re kind of also running out of construction season,” she said. “The other thing is we also talked to the school and the school district about the timing in terms of school – what can we do while the kids are in school and what can we do during the summer – so that we’re being as least disruptive to their situation as possible.”
Spokane Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Shawn Jordan said the school district will be involved in the construction and landscaping planning process. While crews will have to remove a limited number of trees on the site, Jordan said the plan is to plant more once construction is complete.
Students are already restricted from that area of the elementary school property. So while a larger swath of the area will likely be fenced off during construction, Jordan said the tower, once complete, will not impede on the amount of student space.
Describing the tower as a “win-win” for the city and school district, Davis said the tower could offer potential learning opportunities for Hamblen students about the science and physics involved with how it works.
“The city has offered that as part of this, and I think it is a great learning opportunity,” Jordan said. “We would be always open to those kinds of partnerships that provide learning opportunities to our students.”