Spokane parks programs for rest of 2020 in jeopardy due to COVID-19

The Spokane Parks budget is taking a major hit due to the Covid-19 closures
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SPOKANE, Wash – With gatherings prohibited and sporting events and classes canceled, the Spokane Park Board reports a 30 percent reduction in revenue so far this year, with more losses possible as the shutdown continues.

The Park Board will hold its monthly meeting next week, but laid out the losses in the agenda sent out Friday.

Temporary and seasonal parks employees have been furloughed since March 25th. The board will address the possibility of deferring most capital projects for the rest of the year and potentially putting a hiring freeze into effect for full-time employees.

There are about 100 full-time employees in the department.

All recreation projects, camps, classes and trips from March through the end of May have been canceled.

The shutdown could have a major impact on summer events planned for Riverfront Park. Right now, most of the park attractions are closed and most events have been rescheduled to late July, August and September.

According to Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase approach, large gatherings can not resume until July.

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The board says only Riverfront Community Engagement events that are “cost-neutral” will be planned for the rest of the year. The board may make exceptions for fireworks on 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, along with the holiday tree lighting.

“If Phase 4 goes into affect [sic] before September, park events will be facilitated by full-time staff which may require additional decrease of attraction or hours to accommodate the need,” the park board financial report says.

The board has created “multiple financial scenarios, based on different phasing.” It lists unknowns as the timeline of the governor’s plan and the public demand for attractions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A detailed financial report says Riverfront Park is $447,039 under budget so far this year. You can read the entire financial report here.