Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DSP's Mark Richard has an Xtreme dream: A zipline across the Spokane River

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 5:05 PM

click to enlarge DSP's Mark Richard has an Xtreme dream: A zipline across the Spokane River
Daniel Walters photo illustration
In this incredibly realistic photo illustration, DSP President Mark Richard shows how exhilarating ziplining can be.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership's President Mark Richard has an idea. Maybe not the sort of idea that will — or even can — happen, but a pretty Xtreme idea nevertheless.

"Here's my bold vision: That we would do it across the river. That's my bold vision," Richard says. "What I'm proposing we need to accomplish is something magnetic. Something that creates adrenaline. Something for folks from 12 to 82. From what I've seen, the zipline has an ability to do that."

To his knowledge, no other community has a massive zipline over an iconic river downtown.

"Think about creating that destination where all of a sudden people are suddenly are coming from outside — because they will. Because they will," Richard says. "There's nothing like it. If we were to do that over the river, you're creating this amazing adrenaline rush and view. It becomes attraction for out-of-towners."

Ideally, he'd like to see it in Riverfront Park itself.

"[But] if we go above the dam, we would have federal regulations that prohibit that," Richard says. "Thinking big: If we were below the dam, what if we were to connect Kendall Yards with the park in Peaceful Valley?"

But he's willing to consider options.

"My second option would be, let's do it right alongside the river," Richard says. "You build a tower structure that's kind of low key."

You'd still get the adrenaline rush of the zipline and the view of the river, he says, though you're not right on top of it.

He came up with this idea brainstorming with the Riverfront Park steering committee, helmed by Inlander publisher Ted S. McGregor. He also says he suggested extending the gondola through the entire park, from Kendall Yards to the Convention Center.

"Again, connecting Kendall Yards, the live-work-play... I love that idea," Richard says. "That is one I support."

He also suggests something that, at times, actually was on the Riverfront Park design documents, but has since been abandoned from the revitalization effort.

"In my mind we're missing something in terms of our delivery in something for our old adolescent or young adult," Richard says. "We closed down the skate park underneath the freeway for good reason. Let's build a dynamic wheel park in Riverfront Park and give these kids something to do."

At times, the Downtown Spokane Partnership has been at tension with the groups of kids who've irritated businesses by loitering downtown. But Richard can empathize with them.

"We have youth who hang out downtown. I used to hang out downtown when I was a teenager," Richard says. "Rather than having them hang around, let's build something for them. And quite frankly, in that design as it stands right now, unless you ice-skate or you like to ride on the ferris wheel or the merry-go-round, there's not much there for a twentysomething. Especially anything that's going to give you an adrenaline rush."

I note that these sort of suggestions are more radical, tubular and even Xtreme than I was used to from the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

"We need Xtreme if we want to have Xtreme positive results," Richard says.

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Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters was a staff reporter for the Inlander from 2009 to 2023. He reported on a wide swath of topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.His work investigated deep flaws in the Washington...