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BEST END TO THE RIVER PARK SQUARE BATTLE

The Cowles Should Pay Up

In a lot of cities, all the armchair quarterbacking is about sports. But in good ol' Spokane, water cooler chatter is about the weather and the scuffle over the River Park Square parking garage. As non-scientific as our method may be, we were curious to take the pulse of our readers on the subject of what should happen. As is usually the case when this question is asked, the main reactions can be split into three general categories: Get the developer of the mall, the Cowles family, to fund a new deal that allows the garage to pay its own way; force the city to live with its original commitment and fund the garage's losses; and settle the whole mess by sharing the pain via mediation. Also as usual, the three were about equally split, with the most people saying the Cowles family should pay, but that faction was only a handful of votes ahead of making the city pay. A bit further behind those two was the sentiment to settle somehow. Other high vote-getting answers included making all downtown parking free and the admonition to "Grow up/Get over it."

But we were hoping some clever solution would come out of all this that we could offer up so everyone could go home happy. There's no silver bullet here, but some of the answers certainly qualify as food for thought. Finding a buyer was a common theme, with hoped-for white knights including Bill Gates, Disney and Wal-Mart. The long arm of the law was referenced in two answers: "Create mandatory shopping laws"; and "Put everyone in jail." Sometimes the most arbitrary solutions have the most appeal, which is why "Battlebots," "mud wrestling match" and "rock, paper, scissors" all seemed reasonable — hey, at least they are attempts at a solution.

Perhaps most on-target were those who voted for letting the courts decide. If only we could (as one reader suggested) bring in Judge Judy, we might actually get somewhere.

2nd: City Pays Up; 3rd: Mediate/Settle

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