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Off the Deep End 

by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & "T & lt;/span & his city is aquatically poor," complained Victor Frazier to the Spokane City Council Monday night as he testified on a proposed $78.4 million bond issue that the Park Board wants voters to decide. The council deferred, for a week, a decision whether to place the measure on the November general election ballot.

The bond issue would allow the city to spend $26.8 million to replace the aging Cannon, Comstock, Hillyard, Liberty and Witter Pools and to build a new outdoor pool somewhere in the northwest part of the city (to replace the two Shadle pools). Parks Director Mike Stone says he's not sure where the new pool would be located.

The proposal also calls for a new $26.7 million indoor aquatics center (again, site unknown).

"It's unconscionable that an All-American city like Spokane has no indoor swimming facility," said Erika Henry.

"We have to host our meets outside Spokane, in Cheney, Moscow-Pullman," said Eric Stapleton of the Spokane Area Swimming team. He and others said an indoor pool would allow the city to provide people with inexpensive, year-round access to water. Stapleton said, however, the proposal to build a 25-yard-by-25-meter pool was inadequate. "We need a 50-meter (Olympic length) pool," he said.

The bond issue has one other aquatic component: $3.5 million for ten new "splash pads" to replace wading pools in 10 parks. It would also set aside $7 million for improvements to the Albi Stadium grounds: new softball and soccer fields, a skateboard park, a BMX bike park and playground. It also would provide $3 million for two four-field youth baseball complexes, one on the south side, one on the north side. The most controversial component is an $11.4 million proposal to build a "promenade" along the Howard Street corridor through Riverfront Park. "It's the main route through the park, the center link," said Stone. "We want to enlarge and straighten that path, build plazas and venues where people can congregate and where vendors can set up during major events, to get them off the valuable green space that people could otherwise enjoy."

All the projects were joined into one bond issue to provide appeal to more voters, said Park Board President Frank Knott. "This is not a political decision. We're doing this for all people, all ages and abilities," he said.

But several people believe that strategy is flawed.

"I'd use a line-item veto if I could," said Victor Frazier. "The promenade is a nice, but fuzzy, concept. I'm concerned about the size of the bill." The measure, if approved, would mean a $44 hike in property taxes for every $100,000 of assessed valuation.
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