A City to Live in, Not Drive Through
"We're a growing city, we have to keep up with our roads. Who wants our 20 minute commute to now become a 45 minute commute? I do not support traffic calming projects & road diets." Nadine Woodward, LWV forum, Tuesday June 25. (Watch on youtube at 14:30. At 14:08 in the same video listen to her misuse statistics to foster fear.)
Spokane as a city is blessed with a great park system, thanks to the foresight of city government in the early 20th century. The city funded a parks department and hired the Olmsted Brothers firm to produce a landscaping plan for the city. One result was Manito Park, the crown jewel of our park system. Keep that history in mind.
Spokane Valley parks? Not so much. If your vision of Spokane Valley is the east Sprague strip mall corridor with five lanes of high speed traffic, then your vision may be closer to the truth than you knew.
The numbers: 82% of City of Spokane residents live within a 10 minute walk of park. Only 22% of the residents of the City of Spokane Valley live within a 10 minute walk of a park. Those are numbers worth committing to memory. (They come from extensive research done by the Trust For Public Land that you can explore in detail by clicking that link.)
Those numbers quantify what I already felt: Spokane is a great city, a city to which I am always glad to return when I've been away, a great city where I can still walk, bike, or run without fearing for my life, a great city where I can walk to park.
The difference between Spokane and Spokane Valley is a difference in planning and vision--and following through on the plan.
What is Ms. Woodward's vision? "Who wants our 20 minute commute to now become a 45 minute commute?" Don't stick to the plan that has made East Sprague and North Monroe feel like a place you want to go, a place you might walk without fear of being run over. Don't interfere with my speed! For Nadine, the city is something to drive through from your home in 'burbs, not live and walk in.
Contrast that to Ben Stuckart's detailed vision for livable neighborhoods:
In my time on Spokane City Council, a resident has never asked for a mini-freeway to be put through their neighborhood. Not one. Yet some Mayoral candidates believe they can yell “road diet” and convince you that a driver’s ability to speed through a neighborhood to get to a destination 15 seconds quicker should trump your comprehensive plan, your neighborhood plan and the viability of our small businesses. But, the days of suburbanist planning policies that decimate our neighborhoods are over.
This vision is engrained in Ben Stuckart. Unlike Nadine, Ben was born and grew up in Spokane. He graduated from Gonzaga University. Ben's father Larry (1949-2014) had a lifelong commitment to the livability of Spokane's neighborhoods. Larry Stuckart served in many roles at SNAP (then the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program) for decades and served as Executive Director for 18 years. Public service and a deep love of Spokane run in Ben's family.
The November 5 election (ballots drop next week) is about what Spokane wants to be. Vote for Ben Stuckart for mayor if you want a mayor with heart, vision, and know-how. Vote for Woodward if you want sprawl, fast driving cars on neighborhood streets, and no leadership experience.
Keep to the high ground, Jerry