With legislative direction, funds needed for construction of Glover Field water trail access can be made available. How? By carrying forward Department of Commerce funding for the whitewater project that is already in place. The key person who can clear this trail is Senator Honeyford, the Washington State Senate Budget Chair. Those interested in securing these funds can contact the senator at Jim.Honeyford@leg.wa.gov.
Here’s the story.
Back in 2007, the Washington State Department of Commerce entered into a contract with the Friends of the Falls “… for expenditures related to development of a whitewater park in the bed of the Spokane River adjacent to High Bridge Park in Spokane.”
As we all know, the whitewater park as originally envisioned did not come to pass, mostly because of environmental permitting issues. Approximately $240,000 of the Department of Commerce funds remain and has been carried forward from biennium to biennium as a solution to increasing river access and enjoying whitewater in the Gorge was pursued.
By 2013, the City of Spokane and various stakeholder groups began development efforts on the South Gorge Trail, of which redevelopment efforts at Glover Field became a central element. What materialized is a fully vetted plan for Glover Field Water Trail access that meets the intent of the Department of Commerce grant; resolves environmental concerns in a way that has broad support; meets additional user group and neighborhood interests; and leverages multiple sources of funding. Arguably, by leveraging various priorities and resources, the community and economic development benefits now exceed that of the original scope of work.
Last year, the Forum and Friends of the Falls merged. With this came whitewater park funds that the Forum agreed to put toward Great Gorge projects. Knowing that Glover Field was gaining momentum, the Forum repeatedly asked for Commerce’s assistance to carry funds forward into the next biennium to complete the project.
Although Commerce staff were not inclined to meet and discuss the Glover project with the Forum, they did send us an email in January saying, “The original scope of this project has changed so much that we cannot move forward until there is agreement in the legislature on what the new scope should be. Once that is determined we’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”
To do what Commerce is requesting, Senator Honeyford is the key. The Forum can appreciate the Senator’s frustration that this project has been on the books for a long time. Hopefully, the Senator can appreciate that after years of effort the community has come together to make something wonderful happen. Our confidence that this project is ready to fly is clearly shown by the Forum, Conservation District and City putting up funds and resources to complete design, engineering and permitting.
If you want your voice to be heard, the time is now.