Community members express concerns over Riverfront Park Pavilion plans

SPOKANE, Wash. - New plans are out for the renovation of the Riverfront Park Pavilion, but for some people, a key component that was included in the master plan is missing.

The design includes LED lighting, a circular platform, and lots of green space.

It's what the pavilion doesn't have that has left some frustrated: a covering.

On Tuesday night, the Spokane Park Board and the design team held a public meeting to share the design plans and answer some tough questions.

The pavilion is a well-known part of the Spokane skyline and now part of a hot debate.

When voters approved the bond to renovate Riverfront Park, the master plan said the pavilion would be covered. But now, the latest designs leave that covering out.

"The expert advice is that the structure may not be designed properly to support tons of material it did during Expo," said Ted McGregor, Riverfront Park Committee Chairman for the Spokane Park Board.

McGregor says he understands that language was used in the master plan that would include a covering over the structure, but now that it's time to work they're learning covering it would likely mean more money and more risk.

"The bond is not unlimited, it's $65 million and we're trying to do the best job we can," said McGregor. "We're running into a situation here where it's like experts who do this everyday are telling us, 'You're walking into a large amount of risk here,' and we're saying maybe there's a better solution."

That wasn't a good enough answer for some people at the public meeting to discuss the pavilion. 

City Council President Ben Stuckart said the campaign told voters the structure would be covered.

"It was word-for-word that we would cover the pavilion," said one member of the community in attendance. "How can we just throw that out? I don't understand."

And Mickey Brown, who served on the Citizens Advisory Committee, agreed.

"We were sold as taxpayers that this was going to happen," said Brown. "Now all of a sudden we're being told, no we're going to put some twinkle lights on the thing and you'll use it for two and half to three months of the year and call it good."

Brown worries if the city doesn't deliver on the cover, voters may think twice about passing another bond.

"The rest of the taxpayers and the City of Spokane are going to start voting down all these bond issues such as schools, hospitals, all these wonderful things for quality of life, because they're not going to trust," he said.

McGregor hopes people won't lose sight of all that has been accomplished, with the pavilion, and the Riverfront Park Project as a whole. 

"We also think we're going to cover it in lights beautifully and we're going to have shade," he said. "It's going to be a multi-purpose venue that's going to have greenery under it."

Crews will likely start work on the pavilion portion of the project in September, with plans to have it complete in spring of 2019.