Posted by Charles Rehberg on Apr 24, 2017
North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
April 17, 2017
          Think June 7: Tickets have been printed and corporate sponsors are in generous need for the annual club fund raiser for needy children at Holmes Elementary School in the West Central area.  Fund chair Robbie Jackson said numbered tickets cost $50 each.  The numbers are for record-keeping and ease of entry at The Back Door on West Broadway at the event.  Notice: this is a Wednesday night event this year.
          Think pets (not the Rotary President-elect version): Congrats to club past-president Steve Boharski and wife April Weber and staff for the spiffy new Garland Animal Clinic.  Though relocating just a few blocks west from the previous clinic, getting through all the hurdles to redo the former liquor store seemed like a long trek.  The cats and dogs, as well the customers and staff, seem to love the new facility.
          Think road trip: Speakers for the District 5080 Conference, May 12-14, in Nakusp, British Columbia, will include a commercial pilot who was a Rotary exchange student, a Rhodes scholar, and a speaker on the “End Polio Now” program.  An “apple pie competition,” local area tours, golf and nearby hot springs also are available to attendees and guests.
‘Downtown’ focuses on all the elements  
          For a Spokane Valley native and former Valley county commissioner, Mark Richard has a “Downtown” vibe through and through.
         Richard is president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership and also is a Club 21 Rotarian.  For more than 40 minutes at the April 24 luncheon, Mark cited an amazing array of Downtown stats, stories and strategies.
          Richard also worked for the Association of Realtors and Spokane Home Builders.
          The themes for the Downtown are “clear, safe and ease of traffic,” Richard said.  His target area is Cedar to Browne and the Spokane River to the BN tracks. The Downtown Partnership, founded in 1995, operates with an assessment-fee system and has 75 members. 
          One element which plays well is how Richard and his 7-10 “ambassadors” deal with street kids, the mentally ill, drug users and others who might make trouble.  Richard said that working with police and rather than just arresting or citing police, the idea is to “engage” people and persuade them to move aside if problems require clog storefronts or provide shelters which need them. “Safety is where everyone starts,” said Richard, who adds he has never been assailed there.
          Another welcomed element is the attention to detail. 
          Richards’ strategy: “We try to stay on little things, so they don’t become big things.”
          Thus, the blue-blazered ambassadors and green-clad Clean Team folks who tend the plants, planters, banners and other amenities also pick up trash and help cyclists fix a flat tire when needed.
          Vacant storefronts are asked to decorate with art, which often spurs new clients, and eventually new customers.
          While new storefronts and medical facilities get attention, Richard said, so do older rooming houses.
          Richard has an easy way of moving potential negatives to positives.
          If he laments that there hasn’t been a building crane “in some time,” occupation-levels seem acceptable.  At least, “it’s not an anomaly,” Richard said.
          If the big Macy’s downtown closed, three or four new a-list retailers have moved in.  And another new important tenant is expected in a few months, also adding to the hundreds of housing units soon to opening in the “M” building.
          Even if the condo craze has not reached Spokane, Richard noted that 6,700 residents now live in the downtown core, with hundreds more expected, including The Chronicle, the Otis Hotel and the Ridpath.
          He makes a good case for the downtown being “half-full,” with more good things on line.  Helping to fill the cup include the new Riverfront Park, the med schools and other Riverpoint campus, the Central Line transit system from Browne’s Addition
to Riverpoint and Gonzaga to the Spokane Community College.
          While in decades past some downtown leaders wanted to avoid the “Chinese wall” affect that once blocked vistas from overhead rails and higher rise buildings.  Richard rather would like to fill in some of the open parking lots with new retailers, offices and tenants.  Riverfront alone adds 95 acres to open space, he said.
          If some suburban residents shun downtown areas because parking meters and lots, Richard points out that the rates downtown are quite low compared to other cities and turnover is needed for customer churn to just clog day-long parking by employees.
          If huge tanks clog spaces by downtown waste-water storage sites, Richard suggests added viewing spots on the river-side promenades or elsewhere maybe add a small dog park or similar amenities.
Bulletin Producers
          Editors:  Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
          Pictures:  Sandy Fink
          Speaker:  Brad Stark