Avista  Corporation

Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement

Huntington Park and Spokane Tribal Gathering Place Renovation

OSAW Rec Logo

Summary

The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place,  previously a parking lot, connects the newly transformed Huntington Park to the City of Spokane’s Riverfront Park, allowing the public access to the Spokane River Lower Falls for the first time in 100 years. Today, visitors can access the Lower Falls and along the way experience interpretive signs, sculptures, and artifacts that depict the area’s history, including Native American, European American and hydroelectric development.

Background and Challenge

The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place is a reflection of Avista’s commitment to the community. The
Park was established in the 1930’s, with renovation efforts in the 1970’s and 1990’s. Even so, the
Park was severely under-utilized with limited accessibility.

In 2012, Avista partnered with the City of Spokane to develop an urban plaza where a city parking
lot existed. As a result, the public has gained phenomenal views of the Lower Falls and river gorge and an opportunity to stroll from Riverfront Park and the City through the new Plaza and Park learning about Native American and European American history as it evolved around the power of the Spokane River’s Lower Falls.

Innovation

Avista installed a stairway that connects to the Post Street Bridge to allow people alternative views of the Upper Falls and the river on the north side of the Post Street Substation. The stairway was custom designed to fit between two existing historic buildings. This is an area that the public had never had access to before.

Additionally, Avista worked directly with the Tribes on the interpretive panels and with a Colville artist to create the Salmon Chief and native women drying and smoking fish sculptures adjacent to the Lower Falls. This ensured the Native American story about their history in the area was shared, especially as it pertained to fishing and gathering in the Lower Falls area.

Results

The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place and Huntington Park allows the the public to experience
and enjoy the Spokane River’s Upper and Lower Falls as they travel seamlessly through downtown
Spokane. Visitor use in the Spokane Tribal Gathering Place was nonexistent before the renovation – going from a few visits a day to thousands of visitors a day on weekends.

Stakeholder Quotes

“These projects have had a tremendous positive impact on our community, and have resulted in
enhanced connections to the Spokane River and our downtown core.

These sites are located adjacent to Spokane City Hall, to our signature 100-acre downtown park,
and to the lower falls of the Spokane River. Before this renovation, the plaza space was a small,
standard parking lot for City Hall, and Huntington Park was an underutilized park area that was not
welcoming to Spokane citizens or visitors. Working with Avista, we set goals of enhancing the
views and access to the river and falls and connecting our citizens to these incredible natural
assets as well as providing another reason to come downtown. We also wanted to acknowledge
the cultural significance of the area to the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

The construction itself was challenging and required a close working relationship between Avista
staff and City staff. Work was completed without impacting the daily operations of City Hall or
Avista’s downtown hydro facility and while accommodating major downtown events including our
Bloomsday Run, a 12k run that attracts about 50,000 participants, and Hoopfest, a 3-on-3 street
basketball tournament with some 7,000 teams.

The results have been well worth all of the effort. Our community now has a plaza featuring basalt
columns, flowing water, and space that stair-steps down to the park below with incredible vistas of
the river. Incredible artwork depicting the Native American connection to the Spokane River and
the salmon that once populated the river has been installed. Between May of 2014, when the
projects opened, and November, the sites received more than 60,000 visits, with more than
100,000 visits so far in 2015.

We are extremely fortunate to have a community partner like Avista to tackle these projects and
bring them to fruition.”

– Spokane Mayor David Condon