Greater Hillyard’s records are incomplete, but history tells us neighbors have planned together in the three GHNEPA neighborhoods since the mid-1920s, at least. Recent neighborhood planning history includes documents from 1988, 1992, and the Centers & Corridors study completed in 2002. Planning gains have been modest in Bemiss, Hillyard and Whitman, some of Washington’s lowest income neighborhoods.
City Council in 2008 restored $500,000 for neighborhood planning funding. In a process involving the Community Assembly, City Administration and the City Council, today’s neighborhood planning process came into being.
- The 27 neighborhoods each get its “fair share” of about $20,000 to do planning.
- Six neighborhoods would proceed with planning at a time, so as not to overload City Planning resources. This cautious schedule was to provide benchmarks and “lessons learned” for successive neighborhoods.
- Neighborhoods could choose either “Project” planning (around specific projects) or “Strategic” Planning (long range statements of objectives and goals).
- “Greater Hillyard” volunteered to be one of the pioneering groups, since resource volunteers with significant personal experience with the Centers & Corridors planning effort remained in the community.
Bemiss, Hillyard and Whitman neighborhoods of NE Spokane joined together as “Greater Hillyard” to take advantage of existing organizations, and to address the area’s common location, culture, history, problems & economy. They called their new organization the “Greater Hillyard-Northeast Planning Alliance,” or GHNEPA. (Pronounced “GaNEpa”.)
Beginning in 2009, GHNEPA set out to
- Best use the three neighborhoods’ experience and planning resources
- Gather stakeholders’ inputs from the widest range of interested citizens possible
- Provide quality analysis of the inputs and data gathered
- Establish means to
- produce solid recommendations for goals,
- track their future progress, and
- assure goal achievement.
First, GHNEPA sought experienced help. Professor Larry Davis from EWU’s Business and Public Administration Department was a proven and trusted resource who had already been working with others in developing strategic background studies in the NE neighborhoods. GHNEPA members asked Professor Davis to lead a team of graduate students with his own extensive planning expertise, to develop a high-quality planning effort and related products. GHNEPA sought and got a contract through the City with EWU for this project.
Second, GHNEPA organized itself. Thanks to support from the three neighborhood councils, the Greater Hillyard Business Association and (especially) the Hillyard CD Steering Committee, enthusiasm and community support built quickly.
Other partners included the Spokane Regional Health District, the Agnes Kehoe Progressive Alliance, the Greater Morgan Acres Neighborhood Association, the Spokane Housing Authority, the Hillyard VFW, and a number of other area churches and volunteer organizations.
Third came GHNEPA’s public meetings, inviting all sources of potential stakeholders to participate. Every month between April and September 2009 featured GHNEPA’s own community meetings, plus GHNEPA exhibits and participation in every community event, including the June 2009 Chalk Art Walk, Block Watch meetings in July, August’s Hillyard Hi-Jinks Parade and Festival and the first Regional Hispanic Festival held in Hillyard in September. GHNEPA’s publicity surrounded each event including numerous press releases in both print and (through GHNEPA-produced Public Service Announcements) broadcast media.
Chalk Art Walk, 2009: Theme was “The Future of Hillyard.” This artist’s draft was one of the last sidewalk entries created on the antique Hillyard Historic District sidewalks before the Market Street Reconstruction project tore them out for replacement.
Results were many and –for the most part—very high quality. Recommendations seldom took the form of “complaints,” but instead offered concrete ideas about how to improve the subject that stakeholder had in mind.
- Anonymous surveys were tallied by skilled employees at the Spokane Regional Health District, who also helped to produce the survey and helped us to objectively assess the surveys’ results. Over 1000 surveys returned provided greater than 12000 specific responses that were analyzed at several levels for content and source.
Survey volunteer uses a golfer’s pencil to fill out his copy of the GHNEPA survey. Results were tallied several different ways.
Survey inputs analyzed with a GPS computer program in this graphic study by WSU Professor Kerry Brooks showed the “walking distance to service providers” value to future employers for a pedestrian bridge across the North Spokane Corridor. It answers the question: “How far is it reasonable for future employees to walk to work?”
- Other forms of input included “sticky note” pads on topical boards at community events, the results of Block Watch and other community and school meetings, and any other direct contributions GHNEPA teams could get from members of the community. More than 1500 of these informal, specific entries were analyzed for content by Graduate and senior students of the EWU team. The students found a clear set of observation categories. GHNEPA selected these ten “Strategy Areas” for action:
- Public Areas for Community & Family Activities
- Improved Housing & Commercial Buildings
- Cleaning & Greening the Neighborhoods
- Public Safety Improvements
- Business Development
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Changing the Image
- Expanding Educational Opportunities
- Extending Services & Church Involvement
- More Effective Community Organization