Council Votes In Favor of Resolution Establishing a Process for Lease of Former East Central Library and Continuing Neighborhood Police Precinct

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 7:51 a.m.

During Monday night’s Legislative Session, Council votes unanimously on Resolution 2023-0001, establishing a specified process, timeline, and criteria for a request for information (RFI) from the community to lease the former East Central Library building located at 524 S. Stone Street in the East Central Neighborhood.

“We want to empower the East Central neighborhood to have a voice in what they would like in the old library space,” said Council Member Betsy Wilkerson who co-sponsored the resolution with Council Member Lori Kinnear.  “Organizations expressed interest in that space months before the police moved in. The Mayor continues to speak of the businesses' desires primarily located on the north side of I-90, but let’s hear from the people on the south side of the highway.  With the sub-area planning taking place, the Landbridge design, and the anticipation of the North-South freeway, we should provide the community members of East Central with a holistic approach to the needs and desires of their neighborhood.

In June 2022, city officials interrupted the public consideration process to temporarily locate the Spokane Police Department in the previously vacant library space.  On August 29th, 2022, City Council responded by enacting Ordinance No. C-36239 that formalizes the process of siting basic City facilities like police precincts.  This resolution calls for the city to publish an RFI by March 6th, 2023, to request proposals from organizations that previously expressed a strong desire to occupy the space to provide much-needed neighborhood services and locations for preserving the neighborhood police precinct.  This gets the process of community consideration back on track and should be able to use the rental income from the former library space to fund upgraded office space for the police precinct officers. 

“I support a transparent and inclusive process,” said Council Member Lori Kinnear.  “If through that process, a police precinct is determined to be the best use of that location, I am fine with that. If that’s the case, it should be in concert with an agency that compliments its presence. We also need to consider a larger building for police in light of the new policing model announced by Chief Meidl last year.”

The Spokane City Council’s Equity Subcommittee will review responsive proposals to recommend to City Council which entities should be invited to present their proposals at a community open house based on at least these five equally weighted criteria:

1. reflects the cultural vibrancy of the East Central Neighborhood or fulfills essential services that are currently lacking in the neighborhood;

2. affordability of services for those residents;

3. prior experience serving the demographics of those residents; and,

4. financial sustainability outside of any new financial support from the City, including the ability to pay rent; and

5. The global provision of social, justice, and safety services in the East Central Neighborhood, including policing services.

Council requests that July 10th, 2023, be the deadline for proposal responses and that police can remain in the former library space until permanent space is chosen no later than September 30th. 

“This proposal provides a two-for-one benefit,” said Council President Breean Beggs.  “The neighborhood gets a new social service provider renting the former library and an upgraded police precinct paid for by those rents rather than just choosing one or the other.”