by Pia K. Hansen

Playfair Purchased -- SPOKANE -- The city council passed an emergency budget ordinance Monday evening, allocating $6,361,216 from the sewer fund to the purchase of Playfair Racetrack.

The site of the racetrack is being considered as one location for a new sewage treatment plant the city is building. The current plant is already at capacity and has been struggling with overflow problems during rainstorms.

Yet the city's purchase of the Playfair site doesn't mean that's where the sewer plant is going to end up. The former Stockyards are still being considered as a good location, as is another lot near Felts Field off Fancher Road.

"This is only one of the potential sites," said council member Al French. "It's larger than needed, but I believe it's opportunistic to take advantage of its availability on the market." He added that the council has a tendency to hesitate when it comes to land acquisition, sometimes ending up paying more for a site that's been put back on the market by a new owner.

Dave Mandyke, deputy director of public works and utilities, explained that the site is 63.32 acres, of which only about 15 are needed for the actual sewage plant. The site is already zoned light industrial, so the remainder of the land could easily be sold to local business owners.

The city of the Spokane Valley and Spokane County are expected to use the sewage plant as well. Not only is it unclear where the plant is to be located, it's not clear either which government will get to own, build and run it or how much those using it will have to pay.

"We've had an ongoing conversation with the county," said Mandyke, "they are aware of our purchase. If we end up not locating the wastewater treatment plant at this site, we believe we can put it back on the market and get what we paid for it."

The neighborhoods surrounding Playfair are not at all excited about having a sewage plant in their midst.

"That's my neighborhood," said council member Mary Verner. "It looks like my neighborhood council is very much opposed to this."

Ron Blount, representing the Chief Garry Park neighborhood, didn't like the idea either.

"We shouldn't have to have it in our neighborhood," he said. "You are throwing everything at us."

Council President Dennis Hession tried to put Blount at ease, explaining that public hearings would be held prior to any construction.

"The site has not been determined yet," said Hession. "If this becomes the site for the new wastewater treatment plant it will be done tastefully and with the neighborhood's input."

The purchase passed unanimously.

We All Scream... -- SPOKANE -- Ben & amp; Jerry's is moving into a 300-square-foot Scoop Shop located near the food court in River Park Square. The new shop is expected to open in early May, and it'll be Ben & amp; Jerry's only store in eastern Washington. The two ice cream gurus already operate five stores in the Puget Sound area, and there's no doubt ice cream enthusiasts will be lining up at the freezers faster than you can say 'waffle cone.'

Founded in Vermont in 1978 by old school chums Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & amp; Jerry's has grown from a single shop in Burlington, Vt., to a multi-million dollar international ice cream conglomerate with a twist.

If ice cream can be a political statement, Ben & amp; Jerry's is as loud as you can get. On its Web site, the company promotes campaigns such as Rock the Vote, Fight Global Warming and 50 Ways to Promote Peace.

The corporate commitment to social services and community organizations will also be carried out by the River Park Square store, which will support local nonprofits and organizations that work with children.

Indians on the Web -- SPOKANE -- The Spokane Indians have launched a new Web site at with all kinds of new and snazzy features.

"We are extremely excited to be launching this new and improved Web site," said Paul Barbeau, vice president and general manager of the Spokane Indians. "This new site is fun, informative, useful and will be a great resource for not only our local fans, but for fans all over the world."

Among many new features, fans can listen to live Indians games via the site and access the rest of the Northwest League or the Indians' parent club, the Texas Rangers.

The Indians' season begins in Boise on Friday, June 18. The team's first home game is on June 21.

Publication date: 04/01/04

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