Vision For The Park
Parks at the very center are more than the landscape, they are part of the urban city—both a place to gather and a place to rest and rejuvenate. The river gorge is Spokane’s piece of individuality which should not be overlooked but celebrated.
- Frederick Law Olmstead
The Riverfront Park Master Plan 2014 aims to highlight the Park as a vibrant, expression of city pride that provides enriching and memorable experiences. Riverfront Park is our living heritage, connecting Spokane’s historical roots, and our city’s natural beauty with our present culture.
Riverfront Park should be a connector—linking north and south, bringing community together at the river and providing meeting places that celebrate our history, our bioregion and each other.
In a recent tourism study completed by the Randolph Travel Marketing, Inc. for Visit Spokane, Riverfront Park was identified as the number one tourist attraction in Spokane. Riverfront Park attracts 2.2 million visitors a year. While the Park staff work hard to maintain a beautiful park for Spokane, Riverfront Park has not had a comprehensive investment since 1973, the year prior to EXPO ’74.
While Riverfront Park and its setting possess a timeless beauty, many of the facilities are dated and have fallen into disrepair, or are no longer in use. The East Pavilion, which previously housed the Spokane Story is not up to code and can no longer be accessed by the general public. The various shelters and remaining pavilions throughout the Park have either outdated infrastructure that make it difficult to host public events or are in need of serious upgrades that do not allow for public access. Program uses such as the IMAX theater, that used to generate surplus revenue for the City and the Parks Department is now operating at a loss. Large events such as Bloomsday, Pig Out in the Park, and Hoopfest need greater amounts of flat programmable outdoor space and upgraded power for public events such as music concerts, beer gardens and concessions.
Access to the Pavilion and central Spokane River and Falls is not clear for many visitors to Riverfront Park. For visitors walking along Spokane Falls Boulevard there are very little physical or visual cues to let them know of the amazing river less than two blocks away. Views of the Pavilion from City Hall are obstructed due to overly planted vegetation and meandering pathways that were developed as a part of the World’s Fair. Using perimeter berms and landscaping between these pathways, EXPO was able to clearly define each country’s pavilion. Today, these compartments tend to make the Park feel confined and creates pockets or dead-zones where few people regularly enter. Security and vandalism in these areas has become a concern.
Because there has been no major investment in the Park in 40 years, the Park is also in need of many routine upgrades and maintenance. Raccoons are living over the Ice Palace roof, a central boiler system is in dire need of repair, and a new more efficient irrigation system needs to be installed. The Carrousel building is also in need of an upgrade. The lack of a conditioned space facilitates the deterioration of the wood horses and sculptures, and the building has a leaky roof. Following are some of the other key areas that need upgrading and/or improvement within the Park.
- Pedestrian Bridge Upgrades and Replacements
- Improve fire access, delivery of foods, services, garbage, to the center of the Park
- Security Cameras
- Upgraded Parking Facilities