Local automotive enthusiasts have been saying that Spokane Valley has been doing its best to drive away car shows from city parks.
However, staff members told the City Council during Tuesday’s study session that’s not the case. Rather, it’s perceived inconsistencies over city policies that have perhaps kept them from making pit stops here lately.
Supporters for the car shows, which have traditionally been held at a pace of about four a year at Mirabeau Meadows, packed the parking lot at City Hall last week and told council members they felt less than welcome in Spokane Valley.
“We used to hold two or three car shows a year (at the park),” Jack, Bean, vice president of the Inland Northwest Car Club Council. “But we just got tired of hitting our head against the wall. I’m a taxpayer – I helped pay for that park. I’m getting tired of being treated like a second-class citizen, and it’s not fair.”
Duane Murphy, chairman of the Car Club Council, said his group has been getting similar treatment in the city of Spokane, and he said he doesn’t understand why.
“We’ve always been good stewards of the park,” he told the City Council on Oct. 11. “We’re asking that you sit down (with us) so we can get on the same page.”
On Tuesday, after a presentation of the car show policy by Mike Stone, Spokane Valley parks director, Council Member Dean Grafos agreed that’s what needs to happen next.
“It’s a big deal,” Grafos said. “There are 70 clubs with 5,000 members. That’s a lot of people in our city going to our restaurants.”
Grafos said after discussing the issue further with representatives from the car clubs – which typically bring in between 100 and 300 cars to park on the grass for any one show – it’s not the $168 fee (plus a $257 refundable damage deposit), it’s a perceived lack of consistency when they see cars and trucks in areas they’re not allowed during Valleyfest in September.
“We need to make sure we’re consistent in our message to our citizens,” Grafos said.
Stone said that Valleyfest is a “city-sponsored event” that happens one time at the end of the summer season. In order to prepare for the car shows, he said, irrigation at the parks must be turned off two to three days in advance to harden up the ground, which can cause the grass to dry out in July or August.
Stone said he agrees, however, that the city does need to communicate its policies better with the car clubs.
“We didn’t get the opportunity this year,” saying there was only one car show besides the one associated with Valleyfest.
“If we had four and now we’re down to one, what’s happening?” asked Council Member Chuck Hafner. “This city needs attractions to attract people.”
Hafner said he’s heard that the shows typically bring in “around $100,000” in revenue to the city.
“I think they are good custodians of our parks,” he added.
Stone said the reason the shows are limited to four a year is to minimize the impacts on the parks and the effects on other users.
“The majority of Spokane Valley parks have not been designed to support large-scale events,” he said, noting limited restroom facilities, parking, water and power. “What is appropriate for one park may not be for another.”
Stone said in the future the city may want to designate and expand one of its parks specifically for car shows in mind.
“I think we have a lot of work to do,” said Mayor Tom Towey, who characterized the car show enthusiasts as “good people.”
“I think we can work something out,” Stone said.