Huntington Park and City Plaza officially open to the public

Downtown Spokane is known nationwide for the Spokane Falls. With Avista's Huntington Park, the falls become more accessible (and beautiful!) than ever before. (PHOTO: Avista Utilities)
Downtown Spokane is known nationwide for the Spokane Falls. With Avista’s Huntington Park, the falls become more accessible (and beautiful!) than ever before. (PHOTO: Avista Utilities)

After almost a year of construction, last Friday, Huntington Park and City Plaza officially opened to the public. The new park and plaza, funded by Avista Utilities as a gift to the city in its 125th Anniversary Year, offer an up-close and personal view of the Spokane Falls. Featuring refurbished staircases, a new grassy area, and a shelter of sorts, the park is a marked improvement from its previous iteration. Even better, it offers a clearer entrance area: the soon-to-be-christened City Plaza offers an amphitheater-like area, a direct connection to Riverfront Park, and clear entry to the entire complex that doesn’t make it feel like you’re trespassing.

Perhaps more than anything else, Huntington Park offers a tantalizing vision of what Spokane’s future could look like with a potential full renovation of Riverfront Park, additional shoreline and river access improvements, and direct trail connections through the Centennial Trail and Kendall Yards. And we can’t help but notice that this park with dramatically increase property values for the Post Street Substation/Washington Water Power Building and City Hall. Perhaps it’s time for Avista to relocate the substation and turn it into loft condos? Better yet, perhaps the City could swap City Hall with a developer willing to build a residential tower. Anything to get more residents downtown!

Huntington Park and City Plaza are certainly the types of projects that will get them there.

What do you think? Have you visited Huntington Park yet? Would you buy a loft condo in the Washington Water Power Building? Do you think City Hall should relocate and sell to a developer?

Editorial Comment: Spokane should oppose coal trains

Coal trains would bring pollution and congestion through the inland Northwest en route to ports on the coast of the Pacific Ocean with no direct benefit to us. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The #spokanerising Project opposes plans to increase coal shipments through the inland Northwest. Such shipments, estimated at 18 additional trains daily to supply the Gateway Pacific Terminal alone, would harm our neighborhoods and threaten our neighborhood vitality. Collectively, the coal conglomerates want to ship an additional 150 million tons of coal every year to China and other developing Asian nations. That’s enough to fill 10,000 more trains every year, and most of them would roll through Spokane’s neighborhoods and its downtown.

Spokane should be the epicenter of this debate. As the largest inland city on the route from the Powder River Basin to the coast, we stand to lose the most from the export proposals. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains at Witter Aquatics Center, located across the street from Avista Utilities at Perry and Mission. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains on the burgeoning University District, set to be a full-scale medical and graduate school. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains downtown, where Expo 74 promised to clean up a dirty, seedy central business district–and then delivered. Who’s going to want to develop in neighborhoods like that? Who’s going to want to increase neighborhood vitality in a neighborhood where trains diminish property values and destroy quality of life? Coal trains are antithetical to increased positive development.

We learned a lot from Expo, but if these coal export proposals are developed, then we risk going back on the commitments and the changes that we made. We risk going back to before 1974. And that’s not a risk that we should be taking.

READ MORE:

Idea #11: Make the U.S. Pavilion a Community “Lantern”

Imagine this, but spread throughout the entire Pavilion superstructure on a new, translucent material. (PHOTO: CardCow)

Among the proposals being considered as part of the Riverfront Park Master Plan, the Parks Board and the Riverfront Park Advisory Committee are exploring the possibility of recovering the U.S. Pavilion structure in Riverfront Park and lighting it in order to make an incredibly unique architectural statement.

During Expo 74, the Pavilion was covered by a white vinyl material that easily ripped and tore, exposing the structural steel underneath. After the World’s Fair, Spokane residents chose to keep the superstructure, but the vinyl cover posed a safety hazard, and was taken down. Now, we have the opportunity to re-cover the Pavilion with a “durable, translucent material like Teflon-coated fiberglass,” (The Inlander) that didn’t exist back in the 70s.

Most interestingly, however, this recovering invites the possibility of lighting the superstructure as a sort of “lantern” for the community. A color could be chosen for typical nights, but events would offer an opportunity to show some character. Imagine the possibilities! The Pavilion could be lit in blue and green for Seahawks games, or lilac for Lilac Festival, or the color of the Bloomsday shirt for that year, or rainbow for gay pride events, or blue and red during the Zags’ March Madness run.

What do you think? Should the Pavilion be recovered and lit? Do you think that it sends a unique statement to the community? Share your thoughts in comments, tweets, posts, and responses.

Now/Then: Spokane Falls

Surrounded by development and dammed by Washington Water Power/Avista Utilities, the Spokane River serves as the centerpiece of our city. (PHOTO: Anthony’s Homeport Restaurant)

Since the earliest days of human settlement of the inland Northwest, the Spokane River has been its centerpiece. The Spokane Tribe, the Children of the Sun, once fished for salmon and settled along its banks. Once the Europeans reached the Northwest, James Glover was one of the area’s first permanent residents in the late 1800s. Famously, he had this to say upon seeing the river for the first time in 1873:

“I was enchanted — overwhelmed — with the beauty and grandeur of everything I saw. It lay just as nature had made it, with nothing to mar its virgin glory… I determined that I would possess it.”

Of course, back then, the river looked a bit different than it does now.

Spokane Falls and the Glover settlement in 1880. (PHOTO: Eastern Washington University)