SPOKANE, Wash. -- On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Expo ’74, the Spokane Parks Board approved the new Riverfront Park master plan. The plan still needs City Council approval, however, before it can be placed on the November 4th ballot.
With bridges that have weight restrictions, a cramped carousel and amusements rides that don't make money, the City of Spokane hopes the public will agree that Riverfront Park needs an upgrade.
On Friday, the parks board approved the plan for a $60 million bond that would help fix the aging park. If the bond is approved, it would only be used for capital expenditures like upgrades. The bond, however, would not have any funding mechanism for park maintenance.
Park Board President Randy Cameron said there is no exact figure on what it will cost to maintain the new park’s infrastructure.
“If we can build the facilities, if we can have a good business plan, which we believe we've got, we can maintain and grow,” said Cameron.
One of the biggest focal points of the project will be at the U.S. Pavilion. The venue is currently not equipped to host concerts or other outdoor events because the facility is outdated. The large steps overlooking the rink, for example, are not ADA compliant.
Cameron believes the $24 million proposed upgrade to the Pavilion can generate millions of dollars in concerts and events every year and become the center piece of the park.
The plan also calls for doubling the size of the Looff Carrousel, where the city could charge for events and birthday parties year-round. In addition, the ice rink will be moved from the Pavilion to a location near Post and Spokane Falls. The rink would be used as a farmers’ market in the summer.
Cameron said funding for the bond will come by allowing the 1999 bond to expire and refinancing the 2007 parks bond that was used to build splash pads, fix pools and build Dwight Merkel sports complex.
“What we're excited about is the fact that [it’s] the same 34 cents that we've been paying since the 1999 bond. When that bond retires, it follows and we can use the same 34 cents to do what we're talking about today.
The city council is expected to make a decision on the park plan sometime in July.