by Cara Gardner

Gateway Competition -- SPOKANE -- Design students with WSU-Spokane's Interdisciplinary Design Institute will compete at the institute's 7th annual Community Design and Construction Charrette for the best gateway entrance to the City of Spokane along Division Street, from I-90 to the Spokane River. The competition, which begins on Tuesday, will give the students just 48 hours to complete the full-scale gateway design. The participants must complete their work by 5 pm on Thursday, Aug. 28.

"The goal of this charrette is to contribute a voice to the larger dialogue over the future of downtown Spokane and the University District through an intensive real-world learning experience," says David Wang, associate professor of architecture at WSU-Spokane and coordinator of the charrette (a French word referring to the intense effort that architecture students put forth in order to finish the final stages of a large project).

The students' designs for the gateway must include pedestrian-friendly walkways and/or an overpass across Division Street, student housing, parking, commercial establishments and a health clinic. They will also design a gateway element at the intersection of Division and Spokane Falls Boulevard.

Members of the local design and construction community will judge the students' work. Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is working to obtain for federal Department of Transportation dollars that would be used to enhance this stretch of Division Street.

The Street Beat -- SPOKANE -- Mayor John Powers announced his plans for $30 million in street repair, to be completed as an interim repair strategy over the next three to five years.

"This is something the mayor has been working on for some time," says Marlene Feist, public affairs officer for the City of Spokane. "He's talked about his concept generically as early as a couple of months ago. The City has unused debt capacity, the market is favorable and the timing couldn't be better."

Powers is proposing that the City sell $15 million in bonds to be paid off over 15 years. The proceeds of the bond would be split with $10 million going to street maintenance projects. The other $5 million would be used for capital projects where the City can leverage about $3 in federal and state money for every dollar it spends. No new taxes would be required to pay back the bonds.

"The council will have to approve this through an ordinance, which will go through readings, and the public will have opportunities to speak on that," Feist explains.

"Last spring, I commissioned a citizen customer survey," Powers says. "In that, we asked the citizens if the City were to realign its priorities & Ouml; in one area, what would it be? Streets garnered 80 percent of the responses. This is consistent with the council's desires. It makes sense to do it now; there'd be no reason to wait."

Powers says he hopes to see his street repair plan go before the city council by mid-September.

In Our Chambers -- POST FALLS, Idaho -- The Regional Chamber Alliance, which consists of the Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Spokane, Spokane Valley and West Plains chambers of commerce, will meet with Reps. George Nethercutt and Butch Otter on Tuesday.

"This is the second year that the regional Chambers have hosted this," says Jonathan Coe, president of the Coeur d'Alene Area Chamber of Commerce. "We believe it's an important opportunity for the business community to meet with our congressmen and share with them issues that are important to our region."

The Regional Chamber Alliance will address four major areas of interest with Nethercutt and Otter: federal assistance on economic development, environmental and energy issues, health care issues and transportation.

"It's very important to dialogue with them," Coe says of the congressmen. "Obviously they'll have insights that we don't have because of their roles and knowledge in D.C."

Coe explains that from 2 pm to 5 pm, the Regional Chamber Alliance has invited people with expertise in each of these four main areas to visit in working groups with the congressmen. At 4 pm, the general meeting will begin, with a reception following.

"This is an opportunity to ask [Otter and Nethercutt] to put our issues on a list of things to be concerned with," Coe says. "This is the first step for letting them know what's important and starting to develop the positions our five chambers may take."

Publication date: 08/21/03

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