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Hillyard Opening Doors to Change With Police Precinct

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Tuesday the Spokane Police Department opened its second official police precinct, right in the heart of the Hillyard neighborhood. It comes at the beginning of a wave of change for the old industrial area.

Business owners and residents stepped in from the rain for tours of the new precinct. 15 officers and staff, including a captain and three lieutenants, will eventually call the Hillyard station home-base. Police Chief Frank Straub says Hillyard has seen a recent drop in its crime percentage, but says actions will speak louder than statistics.

Straub; “So the true benefit of having the police in the neighborhood, on foot, on bicycles, in cars, greater relationships between us and the schools, greater synergies. That’s what community policing is all about.”

The first precinct is located downtown across from the bus plaza, and is planned for an expansion and relocation. Straub says there are hopes for a precinct on the South Hill, but have not determined a location.

Hillyard residents, meanwhile, also have their minds on business improvements. City Council member Amber Waldref says the neighborhood has a 10 to 20 year plan to clean up old rail yard contamination, and make the neighborhood a busy industrial district again. Just this week the EPA awarded a $200,000 grant for cleanup of Hillyardsbrownfields.

Waldref: “So this EPA grant will be able to be invested in actual targeted planning and cleanup work of potentially contaminated sites. There’s a lot of contaminated sites based on all the previous railroad activity.”

Hillyard was home to a freight rail yard, stream engine manufacturing, and maintenance facilities, until the yard closed in the 1960s.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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