Spokane wins national brownfields award for remediating, restoring and redeveloping their contaminated Riverfront Park

If you live in Spokane, Washington, and you’re ready to ready to get outside in the warm weather, Riverfront Park is a great option!

From 2016 to 2021, the City worked with Washington State Department of Ecology to clean up, restore and redevelop areas of the park.

The partnership leveraged public and private funds to increase the park’s diversity and accessibility, making it Spokane’s #1 gathering space for residents and visitors alike.

The cleanup earned the City and Ecology a Phoenix Award for brownfields excellence at the national Brownfields 2022 Conference in Oklahoma City.

Moving Contaminated Dirt Made Way for Park Improvements

The city revamped iconic park attractions and added exciting new features, all while improving the environmental health of this gem on the Spokane River.
New features include:

  • Skate Ribbon and SkyRide facility: A 16-foot wide, 700-foot-long pathway for roller and ice skating; a ticketing office and café that serve the skate ribbon and gondola ride over the Spokane River.
  • Looff Carrousel Building: A climate-controlled home for the 114-year-old wooden carrousel with an event room, concessions, catering kitchen, and gift shop.
  • Playscape: More than 20 all-inclusive play pieces for a range of physical and social needs that support cognitive and sensory development.
  • U.S. Pavilion Building: An amphitheater seating up to 5,000 visitors with an elevated central walkway, all topped by a “community lantern” featuring 479?color-changing light blades used for spectacular evening light shows.
  • North Bank: 4.7 acres of unpaved parking lots became the Ice Age Floods Playground, skateboard park, basketball courts, climbing boulder, maintenance and operations facility, 156 new parking stalls, four family restrooms, and two picnic shelters.
  • The Podium: A new competition sports facility completed in 2021 following cleanup of the Carnation Dairies site.

Cleanup Used Federal Grants and State Technical Assistance

Along with the other public and private funds, the City used three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Cleanup grants totaling $600,000 to address soil contamination from former railway and industrial uses and the Great Spokane Fire of 1889.

While these contaminants required cleanup when disturbed, park visitors were never exposed to them because of fill material used during park construction and ground coverings such as grass and asphalt.

The City received technical assistance from an Ecology brownfield site manager under the Voluntary Cleanup Program prior to further redevelopment of the 64-acre park.

As soil was disturbed during redevelopment, it was sampled to determine if it was contaminated, impacted, or clean.

  • Contaminated soil has levels of pollution that require cleanup under Washington law.
  • Impacted soil has some contamination but not at levels requiring cleanup.
  • Clean soil doesn’t have any detectable contamination.

The cleanup involved off-site disposal and on-site consolidation and capping of contaminated soil.

Learn More about Riverfront’s Cleanup & Redevelopment

Photo courtesy of the City of Spokane.

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