Futurewire Newsletter

 

Spokane Voters Reinvest in Livability

by Kitty Klitzke, Eastern WA/Spokane Program Director, Futurewis

Last month the City of Spokane passed a new park bond and street levy that will revitalize the downtown core's Riverfront Park and replace an expiring street bond with one that will build complete streets for users of all ages, abilities and incomes.

It is exciting to see that voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of funding to support a vision that Futurewise has been working on for many years – for a restored urban riverfront park in the heart of the city and for implementation of the complete streets ordinance. The Complete Streets ordinance ensures that all significant street repair projects in the city, including the projects funded by the new street levy, will be constructed with pedestrian, bicyclists and transit riders in mind. As streets are repaired, Spokane will become more walkable and bikeable. The reinvestment in Riverfront Park will improve river views, increase recreational access and reorient our city toward the river that we turned our backs on many years ago when we oriented buildings and vistas away from it.

Complete Streets Moving Forward
Cities around the country are embarking on a comprehensive reconfiguration of their city streets, rolling back generations of single-minded emphasis on vehicular traffic and pursuing a vision of streets to serve a wide range of functions, including travel by foot, bicycle, transit as well as cars. What is happening in these leading cities is a major shift in philosophy of transportation planners and engineers as well as decision makers. With the passage of its comprehensive Complete Streets ordinance in 2011, Spokane received national attention amongst these cities.

It is one thing to take legislative action to mark the shift in how we design our streets, but it is another thing entirely to actually build them. Without funding, getting complete streets built remains a frustrating and piecemeal process. This is why Spokane’s passage of the streets levy represents one giant leap for reaching implementation of the complete streets vision in Spokane.

As a result of the Streets Levy, Spokane will have $25 million annually for street funding. This funding will be stretched even further as a result of recent federal matching dollars. Earlier this year, a total of $600 million in federal funding was granted for investment in 72 street, rail, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects. Designed to support innovative transportation projects, TIGER awards projects that improve not just streets and bridges, but also people’s lives and neighborhoods. TIGER applicants must demonstrate their ability to match funds, leverage multi-agency partnerships, improve transportation safety, and support the economy and natural environment. The increased funding and the implementation of complete streets design in the projects will help Spokane compete for greater federal and state funding.

Taking Care of the River That Runs Through
Urban parks are known to contribute to their residents’ quality of life and enhance the livability of cities. Studies continuously show how parks also provide a variety of economic benefits from increasing sales tax revenues to boosting property values.

In Spokane, both of these factors are true for its iconic Riverfront Park. Spokane’s Riverfront Park encompasses 40 square blocks and spans three waterfalls in the heart of downtown Spokane. It hosts 60 major events per year and has been the site of choice for organizational functions throughout the region. It is an economic driver in Spokane, but its shabby and dilapidated buildings, bridges and pathways send the wrong message about Spokane – that we don't value our urban open space or the river that has carved the natural, historic, and economic landscape of the city.

Like everything else, a sharp reduction in government funding has resulted in reductions in operations and maintenance, deferring much needed upgrades. As a result of the parks levy, the City of Spokane will have a $60 million one-time investment to implement the Riverfront Park Master Plan.

The Parks Bond and Streets Levy are a clever refinancing proposal to maintain and rebuild streets and reinvigorate and update Riverfront Park. These new investments cost citizens no more than they already pay today. Strategic thinking like this is an example of government at its best: finding ways to fund our public health and safety and revitalize our city through complete streets and an iconic Riverfront park enables Spokane to be a leader in revitalization.

Creating sustainable local funding for street repair and renovating the most visited park shows that Spokane is maturing as a city. Spokane is beginning a renaissance. We celebrate and maintain what makes Spokane a great place while upgrading to meet twenty first century goals.

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Spokane passes through the streets of the city such as traffic, vehicles and so on. But now the condition of these streets is deteriorating. The fingers need to be repaired. The funds that are collected should be repaired and https://www.blogsaays.com/5-tools-to-improve-grammar-writing/ for the scholars to complete their thesis work. the streets are taken care of, because Spokane is a very beautiful city.

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