by Inlander Readers

Raging On -- This is in response to the article regarding the 10th & amp; Maple Safety Improvement Project ("Road Rage," 5/08/03). There is a lot of talk about losing parking to bicycle lanes. Yes, people are going to lose parking, and there will be a bike lane. The difference is that no matter what, parking is going to be lost in the Safety Improvement Project. The argument is that property value is going to suffer as a result of the loss of parking. Possibly, but the alternative to the bike lane and no parking is four lanes of traffic and still no parking. Wouldn't two lanes of traffic with bike lanes have a more positive effect on property value than four lanes of traffic speeding by?

I think that most would agree that public safety is more important than private parking, especially those who were "T-boned" at 10th & amp; Maple.

This project "took on a life of its own" because when the intersection was redesigned the engineers saw other problems on either end of the project. As certified professionals, the engineers could not ignore these other problems. If they only improved the immediate intersection of 10th & amp; Maple, knowing the trouble that would lie at the other ends of the project, they and the City of Spokane would be liable for any resulting damages.

As engineers, they must also abide to the Comprehensive Plan. Providing safe passage for all transportation is one of its provisions. It was included to help make our community friendlier, safer and more livable, not necessarily more drivable or parkable.

Tom & aacute;s Kelley Lynch

Spokane, Wash.

Big Small Town -- My wife and I have lived in Spokane for two years now. We didn't grow up here, go to school here or have family here, which seems to make us a minority.

There are wonderful things about Spokane's "biggest small town" atmosphere that make it special, but there are also some negatives. In the last week, I have thought about this a lot. Having just returned from visiting friends in San Francisco, I found out that friends we had have decided to head back to Seattle after barely a year.

Spokane is full of friendly people, full of great extended families, full of beautiful natural areas and a resurging downtown, but it seems that the biggest obstacle is now cultural.

The young people I meet are leaving as fast as they arrive, and the people I convince to give Spokane a chance don't stay. Why? Jobs are definitely part of it, but the people who are leaving found employment. The reasons I hear are "difficulty in finding friends," Spokane's "conservative" or "negative" atmosphere, the lack of diversity and the lack of "vibrancy." I really love the mountains and rivers of the Inland Northwest, what is happening in the downtown, and Spokane's commitment to community and children. But I am left wondering if Spokane is interested in being more than just the biggest "small town"?

James Jarvis

Spokane, Wash.

Ideas Without Funding -- I have noticed a recent trend of unrealistic optimism regarding downtown Spokane. More specifically, there have been concerns about empty retail space and the need for more convenience (Letters, 5/8/03).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't there have to be a profitable need for something before a business considers putting up shop? With the unemployment rate at or near record highs and many of the jobs paying minimum wage, most people seem to be spending most of their hard-earned money at bars or clubs.

I have also noticed complaints about how downtown looks. Fingers were pointed at panhandlers, a particular unattractive burger landmark, pigeons and the need for flowers and groundcover. Good ideas! One problem. Where's the money for this going to come from? I know, maybe the meth dealers or manufacturers will have a sudden need to give back to the community and finance this. These idealistic views are impractical; many of you need to face reality.

Justin Jaffe

Spokane, Wash.

Seeing Red Tape -- I began my career in mental health in 1989. At that time, the state contracted with counties to provide the services. When I would discharge a patient from Eastern State Hospital, I simply needed to contact Spokane Mental Health and most clients were seen within a week.

Enter the '90s. The state in its ultimate wisdom decided to create the Regional Support Networks, and we began paying for another layer of bureaucracy and more delays at time of discharge. Then the county, in its ultimate wisdom, added yet another layer of bureaucracy, and voila, United Behavioral Health joined the ranks of assuring "quality mental health."

This has resulted in fewer dollars for case managers and often a three-week waiting list for services. The county has even been paying a million dollars in fines for being over-census at Eastern State Hospital.

And now the county is threatening to close all the group homes in Spokane County. Rafaela Ortiz, RSN coordinator, stated the "literature says that residential facilities are not the way to go." Kasey Kramer, director of the County Human Services department, stated that group homes are "a resource that is costly and not necessarily the best fit for all people." They are perhaps the best fit for the 200+ we currently serve in this system. At a cost of $48 per day, I can think of no other service that provides 24-hour care for two dollars an hour.

I urge all citizens who are concerned about the mentally ill to contact our county commissioners to demand that we continue to provide 24-hour care for those who need it in a safe and humane environment.

Louise Chadez

Spokane, Wash.

Publication date: 05/15/03

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