A brief agenda Tuesday was dealt with quickly by the Spokane Valley City Council.
And although an anticipated first reading of an emergency ordinance to remove the existing “city center” zone from the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan was nowhere in sight – it has been pushed back until next Tuesday – SARP got a bit of a positive bump even though it took a few hits earlier in the meeting.
First, however, the council took care of a bit of housekeeping by voting 6-0 – Council Member Bob McCaslin was absent -- to renew the parks maintenance contract with Senske Lawn and Tree Care. The new deal, for $606,477, is more than 2010’s; however that figures in the additional cost for the upkeep of Discovery Playground at Mirabeau Point.
Mike Stone, city parks director, said the 1.3-percent increase made sense, too, in light of the company’s strong record since taking over from Spokane County in 2005.
“Obviously, performance has been very satisfactory,” Stone said.
There are another five one-year renewal periods in the existing contract with Senske. The long-term deal has been considered a boon for Senske as it can commit to long-term labor.
Council Member Dean Grafos said he was pleased that a private-sector company had the contract and commended Stone for negotiating such a “reasonable contract.”
“I’d say Senske has done a great job, and Mike Stone has done a great job,” Grafos said.
With the city-center zoning proposal off the table for seven more days, public comment was unusually light for a regular council meeting. However, SARP was again the topic of discussion as Steve Neill compared the revitalization plan to the multi-headed hydra of Greek lore that needed to be struck down by the existing council.
“I ask the council to enforce the will of the people in the most expedient, and legal, way possible,” he said.
John Tiersma, whose single-family home on Skipworth Road off of Sprague falls under the city center zoning, said his dwelling’s nonconforming use has made refinancing difficult. Before headed to the bank, he thought “everything was fine and dandy.”
However, SARP may be what helps Community Frameworks net $4 million in low-income housing credits for its Appleway Court project. The council unanimously supported the drafting of a letter of support signed by Mayor Tom Towey to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
According to Chris Venn, finance manger of Community Frameworks, the letter of support will generate five points that could make the difference when scoring the project, which will be located at Farr and Appleway, against other similar statewide developments.
He added, however, that since the project is located in a “revitalization area” that it will earn two more points for a total of seven.
Since SARP is currently in effect – its dissolution, if voted by the council, won’t likely happen until this spring during the annual comprehensive plan review – the project should qualify and be more competitive.
“Community Frameworks doesn’t have a position on the SARP plan,” Venn said. “But if two points are there, I want to get them. I’m a point-grubber.”
Council Member Brenda Grassel was concerned the city would be “held hostage” to the current zone by writing the letter of support.
But both Venn and Council Member Bill Gothmann said they didn’t believe that was so.
Next week’s council meeting – and the first reading of the emergency ordinance amending the comprehensive plan to eliminate the city center zone – is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.