Sprague Avenue was once again the center of City Council attention last week.
The Spokane Valley governing body unanimously agreed to award a $1.27 million contract Aug. 21 to do the swale work on the west end of Sprague.
Inland Asphalt had the lowest of three bids to do the work between Thierman and Park roads on Sprague. While the three-part project – which will see swales put in along with new landscaping plus a grind-and-overlay of the roadway for preservation purposes – is to get started immediately, the hope is that all the work can be done before November.
“Hopefully, we can get it paved,” Steve Worley, senior capital projects engineer, told the council. “It depends whether we have a longer summer or not.”
Attention also turned toward Sprague property east of Herald Road that the city is considering purchasing in order to expand Balfour Park and possibly housing a new library. At the council’s Aug. 14 meeting, library officials – who are hoping to partner with the city on buying the 8.4 acres of property – the council was told that the original plan for a two-story, 50,000-square-foot structure is being downsized to 30,000 square feet to better utilize space and to save money.
Last week council members, for the most part, said they still are excited about expanding Balfour Park even if the library may not be all what they initially had in mind.
“It’s still a significant building,” said Council Member Arne Woodard, adding that he hopes it will have the ability to be expanded as the Spokane Valley continues to grow.
He also said he likes the idea of keeping the existing library on Main Avenue as a service center and storage site.
“That makes sense to me,” Woodard said.
Council Member Ben Wick said he’s disappointed if the library become simply another branch and not a community destination.
“I guess my fear is, are we still contemplating that as a regional location?” Wick asked.
“That’s something we can work on (in an interlocal agreement),” said City Manager Mike Jackson.
Council Member Chuck Hafner said the building will draw plenty of attention if the design is right. He added he doesn’t believe downscaling an originally planned auditorium to a large, more versatile meeting room will be a problem.
“As far as the 200-seat auditorium goes, the high schools have that and aren’t used all the time,” he said. “I feel that (the planned library) is a destination. If you look at the pictures, it’s a very, very good design.”
Council Member Dean Grafos said the library is “just the frosting on the cake” of the property, which can be utilized in many different ways.
“We’re deficient I park space, even without the library,” he said. “We can have car shows, public markets, walking trails – that should be one of our missions and goals.”
Mayor Tom Towey said, as a bond issue would have to be passed by voters to fund the library, the real question is whether the land purchase is “good for the city.”
“There’s a lot of components to this,” he said.
Council Member Brenda Grassel said she wants to ensure that any building constructed by the Spokane County Library District is complementary to the park theme.
“I don’t want to have them build and building that doesn’t mesh,” she said.
Inga Note, traffic engineer, said that there would likely need to be a way for potential park patrons to safely cross Sprague Avenue to access the site. As a typical stoplight would not be needed, a HAWK – High-intensity, Activated cross WalK -- pedestrian signal could be put in for $701,000. Pedestrians activate the red-light signal, which allows pedestrians to cross in front of stopped cars.
Woodard wanted to know if the library is not built if the crossing signal would be needed.
“It depends,” Note said. “I can see a need for pedestrians to get across the street.”