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Spokane council approves process for use of city assets; Mayor objects

Michael Brown.Fresh Soul restaurant at Spokane City Council meeting
Spokane City Cable 5 screenshot
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Michael Brown from Fresh Soul restaurant in the East Central neighborhood told the city council he supports having police in the new precinct.

This case revolves around the mayor's decision to put a police precinct at the former East Central library.

The Spokane City Council and Mayor Nadine Woodward are trading barbs about the siting of a new police precinct in the East Central neighborhood. The city council took the latest step Monday night, approving an emergency ordinance that establishes a new process for siting essential facilities, such as police precincts.

Mayor Nadine Woodward argues she has the authority to direct how city assets such as vacant buildings are deployed and that her move to put the new precinct in the vacated East Central Library included extensive outreach to the community.

On Monday night, several people, including Major Eric Olsen, said the police presence in the old library is already paying dividends.

“This gives the police department the opportunity to be next to a community hub," Olsen said. "It gives us face to face interaction with the public and the time, the ability to build relationships and relationships equate to trust and that’s what we’re looking to build with our police department and our community is to trust and to make that community safer.”

Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson says the city council has asked for a survey of the neighborhood before deciding to commit to one use.

“Let’s not rush to just put the police precinct there and truly, what is the highest and best use of that space," she said.

After the council’s 5-2 vote to establish a process for determining the use of city properties, city spokesman Brian Coddington issued a statement from the mayor, in which she says the council decision is an attack on her authority and goes against what East Central residents want in their neighborhood.