Riverfront Park redevelopment could get more City Hall involvement under proposal

A preliminary plan to reshape governance of the city’s park system would grant city lawmakers and the mayor’s office a greater say in the redevelopment of Riverfront Park.

“The park is just really one of those unique things that has so many stakeholders in the city,” said Rick Romero, the city’s former utilities director who is working on the proposal under a contract with City Hall. “It’s a different animal.”

The idea, which is still in early talks but was shared in a one-page memo with the City Council and the autonomous Spokane Park Board, calls for the creation of what’s known as an “enterprise fund” within the governance structure of the city’s park system.

Doing so would channel any money made in the city’s signature 100-acre downtown attraction back into Riverfront Park, and add two members of Spokane’s City Council and two mayoral appointees to a committee overseeing that money. Their decisions would require approval by a majority of the Park Board, which has operated independently of City Hall for more than 100 years.

Money made at Riverfront Park to date has been spread out throughout the city’s park system.

Park Board President Chris Wright stressed the proposal still is in its early stages and that board members would need several questions to be answered before it moves forward.

“I think right now the proposal doesn’t anticipate the Park Board giving up any ultimate authority,” Wright said. “An enterprise committee would probably be advisory to the park board.”

Romero said the goal was to get more people at City Hall around the table as plans progress on the taxpayer-funded redevelopment of Riverfront Park.

“We all win by working together,” Romero said.

After expressing surprise that early designs for the new U.S. Pavilion included an uncovered structure earlier this summer, City Council President Ben Stuckart said he was exploring ways to ensure more…

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