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Neighbors Concerned About Centennial Trail Expansion

steve jackson photo

Some Spokane residents are upset with plans by the city to construct a portion of the Centennial Trail through their neighborhood.

That neighborhood is bounded by Boone Avenue along Summit Boulevard, through Mission and West Point.

Laura Garrabrant owns a home on Mission across from the bluff overlooking the Spokane River. She says she was taken by surprise when learning of the plans. She says a letter arrived in November informing her that trail construction was planned to start in February. She says neighbors were invited to an informational meeting, one she didn't consider helpful.

“They couldn’t answer questions. We asked about trees and infrastructure and they didn’t have a clue. They just couldn’t answer anything," she said.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist says plans for that section of the trail have been in the works for years and discussion on specifics has been held in various places, including before the city council. But she understands how citizens could be surprised that the plans for construction were imminent.

“It’s always a challenge to get all the information coming out of the city to the people who need it. We try to improve the processes all the time. That letter came from our engineering services department out to those neighbors as they were trying to get feedback on how the design should happen,” Feist said.

Laura Garrabrant says the information and feedback neighbors have received seems to be vague. She and some other neighbors have drawn up a list of several points they hope the city might reconsider. One deals with the width of the trail itself, and how it will impact some of very small front yards of homes that border the river bluff.

“We get different answers from them every time, so we're not quite sure how much land they’re going to be taking from all the homes on Mission and West Point. A few of those homes are going to practically have the trail moved into their living rooms,” she said.

City Council President Breean Beggs says he has heard those concerns.

"I talked to city engineering and they said they’re not taking out anyone’s front yard. That’s what they told me, so I don’t think that’s the issue anymore,” Beggs said.

Some neighbors say the city should have picked a different route that the city already had studied, one that would avoid the private property and go down the bluff to the river and cross with a new bridge. Beggs says it was never a question of picking that route or the current route that is to be added to the trail.

“The way it was presented to neighbors, I’m not sure they knew we were going to do both trails. They were looking at were we going to do one or the other, and if we did only one, they wanted to do the bridge one first. But then I found out we are going to do both. It’s just having quicker connectivity instead of waiting the 10 years or so to be able to afford a bridge,” Beggs said.

The list of issues some neighbors have with the project is fairly long, including safety concerns related to the 15 driveways the trail will cross, concerns about older trees that will be taken out, questions about how the trail might impact erosion, and issues related to parking being relegated to one side of the street.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.