The September 14, 2014 meeting of the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood Council got underway when Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager for the City of Spokane, spoke about the street levy proposal that will be on the November ballot. This levy will complement the parks levy that is also being proposed. Many of the details of the parks levy and the improvements it will bring to Riverfront Park were addressed by Parks and Recreation Director Leroy Eadie during the May meeting of the E-G Neighborhood Council.
Marlene explained that the street levy proposal is designed to improve the arterial system, which accommodates approximately 90% of Spokane’s traffic. The levy would use 57¢ of the 93¢ per $1,000 of assessed property value, with the remaining income going to the parks program. With proper maintenance, involving grind and overlay, the life of streets could be extended to 50 years. Some of the arterial money could be used for residential areas as well.
A council member asked where the income from license plate tabs went, and the speakers confirmed that the income from renewals is directed to the improvement of residential streets.
This is a 20-year levy, and the debt will be paid off four years later. The park bond requires a 60% voter approval, and the streets bond only requires 50% approval. The ballots can be expected to arrive in your mailbox by the middle of October.
Judith Gilmore from the Fulcrum Institute spoke about her organization’s work with the Geiger Correctional Center and low- to moderate-income families in West Central and Emerson-Garfield Neighborhoods. To augment these services, they are planning to renovate a building at 1926 N. Ash, the former home of Nords Electric. The historic building has set vacant for years but is still in phenomenal shape. There are three large bays for work or classrooms for training as well as three apartments for transitional living.
Judith said that Fulcrum is looking for partner organizations that would occupy the available training and retail space in the building. Anyone who is interested should contact her via e-mail or by calling (509) 838-2799.
Jackie Caro from the Office of Neighborhood Services reported that the traffic circles on Montgomery have gone out to bid. Another project that will finish some sidewalks on Madison and Jefferson (also part of the traffic calming program) is underway.
She explained changes to the current Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding process. The majority of E-G still qualifies for CDBG block dollars, as in the past, and could qualify for a number of additional larger grants. For example, the neighborhood could apply to install new lighting on N. Monroe to increase safety and walkability. Neighborhoods can also collaborate with each other and pool money for even larger projects, such as renovations or capital projects that would impact nearby neighborhoods.
There is a training session for these CDBG projects and applications on Monday, September 15, from 5:30 to 7pm at the West Central Community Center (1600 N. Belt). Anyone can put forward applications on the neighborhood’s behalf, but all applications for neighborhood projects will need to be approved and signed by the chair of the E-G Neighborhood Council.
More information on CDBG funding and opportunities is always available through the ONS website.
A short update was given on the Greening Neighborhoods Grants. E-G has been given an extension until September 15 to finalize the paperwork. For the Stevens/Atlantic grant, volunteers will go door-knocking to obtain residents’ approval to plant and maintain trees.
A proposal was made to change the EGNC meeting time from 7pm to 6pm to better accommodate participants’ busy schedules. It was discussed that the time should be changed after the next neighborhood mailing, which will be soon enough for the October 8 meeting. The proposal was approved, with one “nay” vote.
The memorandum of understanding between the Emerson-Garfield Farmers’ Market and Project Hope Spokane was discussed. A few changes for fine-tuning the wording were recommended. The revised MoU was approved unanimously.
The council members gave retroactive approval for a sidewalk improvement project near Emerson Park, which permitted that $5,015 be reallocated from the neighborhood’s street tree fund to the sidewalk fund, even though the money will be used for street tree replacement as part of the sidewalk project.
Jay Cousins reported on the Community Assembly. The elections for the CA will be moved one month earlier to better familiarize those in newly elected positions. A workshop on Saturday, October 18 from 9am to 2pm will offer an opportunity for the public input and involvement on CA priorities.