‘Goosebumps’: 10 years in the making, the North Bank and new playground to open Friday

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s a place every kid dreams about. A playground, or multiple playgrounds, all ready for them to enjoy.

That’s what the North Bank will have, including the new Ice Age Floods playground. It will all open up on Friday for families.

Josie Connolly, 10, enjoyed the park when she visited Thursday as a sneak peek.

“I was like, I thought it was going to be really cool, but now that I’m actually here it’s actually really cool,” Josie said.

The North Bank is nearly 10 years in the making. Garrett Jones, the director of parks and recreation with the City of Spokane, has been with the city since then, at least, to see this idea come about. In 2012, there was a master plan that was made up to help fix up Riverfront Park.

In 2014, voters approved a bond to help fix up the park. That bond gave the city $64.3 million towards the $100 million to do redevelopments. The North Bank was the last of five projects on that list, costing $12 million dollars.

“We’re just super excited. This really makes riverfront a park now everything you see behind me is free. It’s really a destination, it’s about getting together, active recreation and also teamwork,” Jones said.

The North bank features a skate park, a splash pad, many musical structures, a Hooptown USA basketball court with music and more.

There are also several jungle gyms part of the Ice Age Floods story.

“Where the epicenter was at the very beginning and how it worked through the entire landscape,” Jones said pointing to a waterfall that goes into the splash pad.

There was an ice dam in north Idaho that created Glacial Lake Missoula in Montana. The dam burst and flood waters across the northwest into Washington and into Oregon. Throughout the park, kids can learn about the Ice Age Floods among other things.

That also includes a small memorial for Spokane native Jess Roskelley, a big mountaineer who lost his life in an avalanche. The city put in a boulder that kids can climb on, with a quote and his name at the bottom.

“To really celebrate Jess’s life and celebrating kids and adults alike, wanting to start the climb and have that passion,” Jones said.

“Jess was not only a world renowned elite alpinist, but he was also a homebody. He loved Spokane, he grew up here,” added Alli Roskelley, Jess’s widow. “He was always giving back and so to make his legacy known forever, we just wanted to bring that to life after his passing.”

Nearly 10 years ago, there was nothing on the North Bank of Riverfront Park. Now, it’s decked out with many things families can enjoy, with a short walk to the Spokane Arena and soon, The Podium Sportsplex.

Jones was happy to see it all come to fruition after hearing about the projects a decade ago.

“Goosebumps. I mean, you dream it, you visualize it, then to see people, this is why we have the best job in the world to give back to the citizens,” he said.

The North Bank will officially open to the public at noon, starting with a virtual ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. on Riverfront Park’s Facebook page Friday.

PHOTOS: A sneak peek of Riverfront Park’s Ice Age Floods Playground

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