Perhaps Spokane Valley City Council members would feel differently if it were dollar bills that grew on those trees?
After several months of discussing the merits of placing an entryway welcome sign on the city’s west end near Appleway and Thierman, council members backpedaled a bit at last Tuesday’s study session. A price tag of upward of $120,000 to landscape and irrigate the triangular piece of property plus plans to add several evergreen trees, seemed to sour some of the council.
“The sign should be the focal point,” said Mayor Tom Towey. “Any shrubbery or trees is going to take away from that.”
The mayor also said he wasn’t sure what the point of putting in a sidewalk would be as the land sits right between where Sprague and Appleway split at Thierman.
“There’s no foot traffic there,” he said. “Everything costs money. The reason were doing it is that sign. Not trees. Not shrubs. Personally, I think it’s too much.”
Mike Stone, city parks director, said the sidewalk would cost about $7,700 and is a requirement under the existing city development codes. However, due to the size of the space, Stone said that the deciduous trees and a potential future piece of art donated by the Spokane Valley Arts Council were deemed desirable to not isolate the sign – which would boast the city’s mountain-and-river logo with rock masonry columns on each side – in an expanse of grass.
“What do you do with that site?” Stone asked. “It’s a large site. Maybe it’s too large.”
Council Member Chuck Hafner said he initially championed the sign, but now wasn’t so sure.
“When I look at the cost of the sign, in this economy, I’m wondering if it can be done in stages,” he said.
Council Member Brenda Grassel said, however, that the sign is indicative of the city’s commitment to Sprague Avenue beautification even though the council did away with the controversial Sprague-Avenue Revitalization Plan in 2011.
“This is no different that someone trying to sell a house,” she said. “You have to have curb appeal.”
Council Member Dean Grafos agreed.
“This is the gateway to our city,” he said, adding that there would be increased traffic in the area when the new Wal-Mal Mart opens west of Fancher Road as well as the new CarMax center. “They’re going to go right by there, and these businesses want to be on a corridor that looks good. I don’t want to spend $120,000 either.”
Schimmels said the city staff should be “given an A-plus for the sidewalk” but also suggested fewer trees.
Newest Council Member Ben Wick countered, however, that an oak trees could be planted and symbolically grow as the city does. Evergreens could also be decorated during the holiday season.
“It’s a good concept,” he said.
It was also suggested by Council Member Arne Woodard that, as the city comes upon its 10th anniversary in 2013, that the sign could be a communitywide project that would involve area service organizations that could donate time and materials.
“I think we can get everything we want at a whole lot less cost,” he said.
The council directed staff to research ways to save some money on two of four landscaping suggestions put forward to them by Stone and bring more information back at a future meeting.