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Learning about Spokane as a newcomer can be pretty tough – what’s it really like to live here? What’s going on, and how do locals (and transplants) feel about it? When we were planning our move to Spokane, we of course read The Spokesman-Review and followed the Zags (that definitely counts as news!), but finding out what Spokane residents thought was pretty difficult.
We wanted to know more, so as soon as we moved here, we started learning more. Just by virtue of living here, we found out about cool new projects Spokane is doing, new investment, and more. We thought other people considering Spokane should know about this cool stuff too!
In this new series, Everyday Spokane will break down the week’s most interesting news and provide some analysis on what it means for Spokanites (or wannabe Spokanites!).
Let us know what you think of this weekly news roundup – love it? Hate it? Tell us over on our Facebook page here!
Center named for Spokane civil rights activist coming to East Central neighborhood [KREM]
Summary: The Carl Maxey Center is named after the well-known civil rights activist and Spokane native. He also served as Spokane’s first prominent black lawyer.
The project is currently in the design phase but Sandy Williams is hoping to have public gathering spaces, a multimedia center, a library, offices, working spaces, a coffee shop and so much more inside the center once it is finished. The next step is raising money for the remodel.
ES Analysis: Mr. Carl Maxey was a “scrappy civil rights lawyer credited with virtually singlehandedly desegregating much of the inland Northwest” and a graduate of Gonzaga University law school, and now the community in East Central will have a new gathering space for events and conversation around community issues under Mr. Maxey’s name.
The hope is that the project will bring a vibrancy to the area that is found in other parts of Spokane already. With the help of local businesses like Larry’s Barbershop and Fresh Soul, the project could really help to uplift the surrounding neighborhood.
The advisory board is made up of community leaders who have been involved in community activism, and their work with the center could help inspire even more citizens to step up into leadership. While the building has been purchased, much more is needed to help make this dream a reality. You can help by going to the Carl Maxey Center website.
Spokane Parks approve first naming sponsorship agreement for Numerica Ice Ribbon and SkyRide [The Spokesman-Review]
Summary: Riverfront Park’s biggest attractions will now be known as the Numerica Skate Ribbon and SkyRide.
The name change comes after the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department approved its first title sponsorship agreement on Thursday, which will bring in almost $1 million over a decade.
The money from the agreement, about $90,000 a year, will go to programs like skating lessons, free skate night and other low-cost programs for the community. It could also be used for park operations.
ES Analysis: Here at ES, we’re of two minds about this: 1) sponsorship is everywhere, so why not take advantage of that sweet sponsor money, reduce the burden on taxpayers, and get to bring in cool new programs and opportunities for residents? And honestly, do that many people even notice sponsorships/ads anyway (don’t tell Numerica).
Shawn Vestal, one of my favorite columnists at The Spokesman-Review, makes another good point about letting companies name parks, although I wouldn’t go as far as he does to say everything could potentially be re-named. Rather, as someone who comes from a city that re-named almost everything, the thing I don’t like about it is that it causes confusion.
Take, for instance, the ballpark where the Arizona Diamondbacks play. For many of us Arizona natives, it’s BOB (Bank One Ballpark). Say that to a newcomer, and you’ll have to go through the “oh what’s it’s called now? Chase Field? Yeah… where the Diamondbacks play!”
Where do the Phoenix Suns play? If you ask us, it’s America West Arena (just kidding, now it’s called Talking Stick Arena). It’s where the Suns play.
How about Cricket Pavilion where they have all the concerts? Oh, now it’s Ashley Home Furniture Pavilion? It’s the place out there with all the concerts. You know. The outdoor one. (Oh, and now it’s actually called the Ak-Chin Pavilion, shows how long it’s been since I went to a concert out there!)
My point is: with naming and re-naming places, it just gets so confusing that the place you’re renaming becomes… the Arena. The ballpark. The Sky Ride. The Ice Ribbon. It doesn’t end up mattering who buys and names it. Change it often enough, and it will go back to its original (descriptive) name.
Longtime chef, bartender take over ownership at downtown’s Scratch and Rain [The Spokesman-Review]
Summary: Two longtime employees and one of their spouses have purchased the restaurant and bar, Scratch Restaurant and Rain Lounge, and are planning to largely keep things the same while they get comfortable in their new roles.
The new owners, all in their 40s, plan to keep the name, most of the decor and signature menu items. They’d like to see business during late-night time slot pick back up. They’d also like to add more live music.
ES Analysis: It’s about time! Recently, we went out to the Fox to see a show and, after the show ended, strolled over to Rain Lounge. We were practically the only people there, which we found surprising. With a location like that, delicious drinks and appetizers, how could the place not be busy after a sold-out show?
We’re not going to speculate as to what happened, but needless to say we’re excited for new ownership. Let’s get the marketing out there that Scratch and Rain are awesome!
Not only will these downtown establishments remain comfortable spots for locals, but the new ownership wants to get to know you even better. General Manager Brad Bork wants to be hands-on. He wants you to see Scratch and Rain as extensions of your living room.
Monday and Tuesday have all-day happy hours, and there are only ever four menu items over ten dollars, so food and drinks will still be very affordable. Your favorite popular family recipes are here to stay at these downtown Spokane spots, so if you’re craving something with an Italian twist, make plans to visit soon.
Park board wants to sell unused land; opponents say it can’t [The Spokesman-Review]
Summary: The Spokane Park Board is considering a new rule that would modify that 1987 voter-approved requirement to seek voter support before selling parcels owned by the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.
Some unused parks properties have been used as campsites and are difficult to maintain or costly for the city, Garrett Jones, acting parks department director said. He said selling some unused properties the parks department owns, such as small lots between homes in Peaceful Valley, could save money.
Steve Eugster, a former city councilman who has taken legal action against both county and city governments over park land, said the parks department could not sell any of its land without a vote even if the land is not labeled a park.
ES Analysis: The debate still rages over city-owned land and whether it can be sold to private parties without the public’s consent. On one hand, the city wants to unload some of its more costly responsibilities and recoup money that would take the strain off of their budget. This could potentially allow the city to allocate taxpayer dollars to other needs.
On the other hand, the selling of public lands could be a slippery slope, as even the smallest pieces of land (near homes and around neighborhoods) could be up for the same treatment. Would I be comfortable with the city allowing a business to take over a park near where I live? I’m not so sure. The Spokane Park Board has some revisions to make to their proposal before anything goes through, and the best way to actually getting City Council to listen to you is to contact them here.
Readers, what do you think of this weekly round up? What do you think of the new name change to the Ice Ribbon? Head on over to our Facebook page to share your thoughts!