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Give the Go-Ahead 

We are all responsible for Riverfront Park

click to enlarge CALEB WALSH ILLUSTRATION
  • Caleb Walsh illustration

One of the great advantages that sets our democracy apart from most other governments is that we as citizens can choose how the system works. Nothing is more illustrative of this fact than our upcoming local elections.

On the ballot are two proposals, one asking voters to continue the ongoing Spokane street improvement program, and the other to authorize a bond issue to make long overdue renovations to Spokane's Riverfront Park. While both of these measures involve tax funding, neither would involve an increase in taxes, just a continuance of what we already are paying at the same rates.

The point is that we, as citizens, make the choice — not an autocratic dictator telling us what to do, or some anonymous bureaucrat in City Hall.

Why point out what should be the obvious?

Because too often we hear people say, "Our streets are a mess. Why can't they fix the potholes?" Or, "Riverfront Park's too dangerous. Why haven't they put in more lights at night?"

We, the citizens, can now give "they," the streets and park managers, the go-ahead to fix the potholes and make Riverfront Park safer at night.

All we have to do is vote yes on both the parks and streets initiatives.

It's been 40 years since Spokane hosted the Expo '74 World's Fair. Many of today's voters weren't even born then. So maybe a little history is in order.

Expo '74 was not a government operation, nor was it run by either the city or county governments. It was, instead, promoted and administered by a group of citizens from all walks of life in Spokane — civic, business, labor and neighborhood leaders — whose one goal was to celebrate the coming of age of a great city. Yes, all the governments — federal, state, county and city — were involved, but only as participants in the fair. The private corporation, Expo '74, under the leadership of the great civic activist, King Cole, ran the whole show.

After all was said and done, the fair ended, breaking even financially and turning over to the people of Spokane the fair site — Riverfront Park — as a legacy for future generations.

That was 40 years ago.

Time has taken its toll on the park and its facilities. It's time now to again look forward into the future, and for us as citizens to give the go-ahead to park managers to continue to pursue the original vision of Expo '74 — to vote yes on this vital civic proposal.

It is also time to continue the work on replenishing our streets. It's so important to the movement of commerce in our city, to people coming and going in our neighborhoods, to the functioning of our schools, and to how we greet visitors to our city. A vote yes is in order here as well.

This election truly offers all of us as citizens a choice to determine how our city will function, work and look in the future. ♦

Jack Geraghty was a vice president of Expo '74 and served as Spokane County Commissioner and mayor of Spokane. He is a chair of Spokane Citizens for Parks and Streets.

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