by Inlander Staff

Location, Location, Location -- SPOKANE -- The expansion of the Spokane Regional Convention Center, which was approved by voters a year ago in May, is slowly moving forward.

Now that the financing package seems to be coming together, the major hurdle remaining is to determine where exactly the expansion is going to be located. The Spokane Public Facilities District (PFD), which will be running the expanded center, will hold the first in a series of community meetings on Wednesday, April 2, at 6 pm at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena's Champions Room to discuss the final site selection and the process behind it.

Two sites, one immediately to the south of the existing center -- currently a parking lot -- and another immediately to the east of the convention center have been favored so far.

"The board is looking at a third option, using parts of both sites as well," says Kevin Twohig, executive director of the PFD. "No, we are not leaning toward any specific site yet, even though there has been pressure from the community to make the decision early."

At Wednesday's meeting, the PFD will present geotechnical information, environmental impact statements and property valuations pertaining to the alternative sites.

"We will talk about the price of the entire site, but it will not be too specific," says Twohig, adding that the board should be ready to choose a site as soon as April 15.

The PFD board will take public testimony at three regular board meetings -- April 1 at 12:30 pm, April 8 at 3 pm and April 15 at 12:30 pm -- in the PFD's offices adjacent to the Arena.

"You don't have to register to speak, you can just come on down," says Twohig. -- Pia K. Hansen

A New Historic District? -- SPOKANE - At a meeting last Friday, property owners and historic preservationists discussed the possibility of forming a downtown Spokane East End historic district. The meeting was part of the final process that may culminate in the creation of two new historic districts in east downtown.

The final application is due in mid- April, and state approval could be in by the end of summer.

"We haven't had a single person object," says Teresa Brum, Spokane's historic preservation director.

The proposed East Downtown Historic Commercial and Warehouse District falls in between Stevens on the west, Main on the north, Second on the south and Spokane (east of Division) on the east.

Historical District designation carries numerous financial incentives, including investment tax credit, building code relief and street obstruction permit fee waivers -- things that make building rehabilitation much more feasible. Buildings in the districts are not required to be renovated or to participate in any of the programs, but property owners could reap benefits from the historical designation.

"If they choose to participate they are eligible for tax incentives," says Brum. "It's hard for some of these buildings, on their own, to qualify for historical status." --Makayla Patrick

Save the Land -- SPOKANE -- Conservation Futures is now accepting nominations of land to be preserved under the program -- undisturbed -- from the ever-changing and growing urban uses.

Nominations will be accepted until April 30 on special forms available at Spokane County or City of Spokane Parks Department's business offices.

Conservation Futures buys and preserves selected properties within the boundaries of Spokane County. A good example is Downriver, which is one of the many areas owned and managed by Conservation Futures. It's riverfront property within Downriver Park, and it has both public hiking trails and a nearby disc golf course.

Conservation Futures has been active in Spokane since 1994, and it uses a public nomination process to determine which property will be purchased and protected by the program. The program -- which was extended by vote last fall -- receives $1 million from property taxes each year.

This money is strictly for purchasing the land, says Lunell Haught a Conservation Futures volunteer.

"Frequently there are volunteer groups that maintain the areas," she says, adding that programs of this nature are absolutely essential to preserve green space within the city and the urban areas of the county.

"The idea is that our geography, in part, makes us who we are -- we are creatures of our place, and if we don't retain our place, then we become just anybody." -- Makayla Patrick

Publication date: 03/27/03

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