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& & Riverfront Park plans & & & &

SPOKANE -- The city's Parks and Recreation Department has been working on a new plan for the North Bank area in Riverfront Park since '98. Two workshops were held this fall, and building on the ideas from the public back then, the parks department has now compiled several options for the future development of the area between Howard and Washington, on the north side of the Spokane River.

Also included in the plan for Riverfront Park are four other focus areas: Canada Island, the amphitheater, the pavilion and the Japanese Garden, and tonight there will be an open house at the Spokane Arena presenting all the options.

"We are asking the public for comments on the North Bank master plan and the four focus areas," says Paul Crutchfield, administrative assistant with the Parks Department. "There is a ballot-type form where people can check off the things they like, and cross off the things they don't like." Some ballots have already been sent out to neighborhood councils.

The options for the development of the park include a new pedestrian link through the park, and installing a 'people mover' (as in a trolley or bus) to ease access to the park.

Other proposals include turning the ice rink into a year-round facility and a new science and technology center.

& & & lt;i & The Riverfront Park Master Plan open house is on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 6:30-9 pm at the Spokane Arena's Champions Room. Call: 625-6455. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &

& & Impact of hate crimes & & & &

SPOKANE -- It's difficult to forget the image of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, pistol whipped and lashed to a fence outside of Laramie, Wyo., in the freezing cold weather of October '98. Barely alive, Shepard was taken to the hospital where he died five days later.

The attack on Shepard was inspired by gay hatred, and two 21-year-old men were later convicted in the case.

Today, Shepard's mom Judy Shepard tours the nation in the memory of her son. On Tuesday, she'll be in Spokane, where she'll be talking about hate crimes and their impact on communities.

After her presentation, Mayor John Powers, Spokane Police Chief Roger Bragdon, former news anchor Marianne Mishima and Jake Steiner from the Odyssey Youth Group (a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth) will take part in a fishbowl forum.

"The [panel] members will be sitting in a circle, and inside the circle there's an empty chair," says Vince Lemus, the city's human rights specialist, who will be moderating the discussion. "I will present questions and comments to the group and they can reply. The audience members have the opportunity to join the conversation by sitting in the empty chair."

Judy Shepard's presentation is also about hate crime prevention.

"Ultimately," says Lemus, "we'll be talking about the impact of hate crimes in Spokane."

& & & lt;i & Judy Shepard will speak at SCC in the Lair, 1810 N. Greene St. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 11:30 am. The forum follows at 12:30 pm. Call: 533-7185. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
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