Riverfront Park to get much-needed facelift

SPOKANE, Wash. - Riverfront Park is moving forward with getting a much-needed facelift after the park board announced a chair to head up the master plan advisory committee.

The park is Spokane's front yard, its gem, its main attraction; it's the home to Bloomsday, Hoopfest and Pig Out In The Park. It's also close to being over the hill, with railings on bridges falling into disrepair and pathways on Canada Island becoming tripping hazards.

"I think we need to think big," Inlander publisher Ted McGregor said. "With some smart decisions this can be one of the great attractions in the west."

Riverfront Park to get much-needed facelift

The city is looking to redevelop the almost 40-year-old park and McGregor will be leading the effort as the head of the master plan advisory committee.

"This isn't decisions made by a bunch of professionals, this is engaging the community, asking the community, what do you want to have designed as your front yard?" Spokane Mayor David Condon said.

Granted the park isn't what it used to be …

"The attractions under the pavilion struggle. I mean they are not like screaming financial success for the city," McGregor said.

However one word people like to throw around is potential.

"Obviously there are things that are not going to be touched; the red wagon, the carrousel, there's just some things about the park that are so iconic. The sky ride," McGregor said.

A couple of things need to be addressed, McGregor added. One thing is signage, something that says Spokane.

"Where am I? Where do I go to get to the falls? Everybody does their live shot from ESPN in front of that and those things matter," he said.

Of course there are hurdles to revitalizing Riverfront Park. One of them is the price tag for the facelift.

"You know I think it needs to be on the table. Can we partner with private firms in a concessionaire type capacity? I think it's going to raise some hackles but it's only responsible to look into that," McGregor said.

The committee will have a year of input and fundraising before presenting options to the city. Ultimately the city will have to put a bond issue to the voters in November of 2014 to fund the project before any changes are made.