West Central residents express mixed feelings over city council’s decision to repair Riverfront Park bridge

Some people who live in Spokane’s west central neighborhood are not pleased with Spokane City Council after a recent decision on where neighborhood money will go.

Last month, Spokane City Council approved a half-million dollars of ‘TIF’ funding to repair a suspension bridge in Riverfront Park.

TIF is ‘tax increment financing’ – the city started it in 2007. It was created to help bring in money for projects around some of the lowest-income areas in the community, including west central.

It took more than 12 years to build up the money in TIF funds, which is currently about $800,000. City council took $500,000 to repair a Riverfront Park bridge and $77,000 for projects in west central neighborhoods.

“We have reached a point where it is timeout time,” said Judith Gilmore, a west central resident.

Gilmore has lived in west central for more than 45 years

“The neighborhood needs to sit down with the TIF committee and figure out what needs to be done about west central,” Gilmore said.

More than $800,000 is currently sitting in that TIF fund. Now, more than half of it will go towards fixing a suspension bridge in Riverfront Park.

“It’s like pulling from one pot to pay the other pot. But it’s the poorest pot,” said Kelly Cruz, a west central resident and Spokane mayoral candidate.

The suspension bridge on the north end of Riverfront Park been closed for months because it was showing signs of wear and tear.

“While I recognize it meets the standards of the TIF – I think we’re kind of stretching,” Gilmore said.

Here’s the mission of TIF:

Invest in public infrastructure efforts to create neighborhoods that attract new businesses and revitalize neighborhoods.

“I’ll find fault with myself and others that haven’t stayed close enough to the TIF paying attention,” Gilmore said.

TIF started in Spokane more than a decade ago.

“Like any other citizen, particularly in a working class neighborhood – you have other things to do so you may not pay attention. Well, wake up – it’s time to pay attention,” GIlmore said.

Gilmore said she can’t fault people for wanting to fix the bridge, but she said the most help Spokane needs is right in her neck of the woods.

“West central’s time has come and it’s past due,” Gilmore said.

Cruz said it could take another four or five years to replenish the money being used for the projects.

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