Packed In: ‘In the name of the almighty dollar’: Homeowners say development’s destroying East Central

SPOKANE, Wash. — Undeveloped land near Underhill Park is changing. Some parts of the forest behind the park are zoned for residential use, and a new housing development is on the way. Some neighbors are frustrated because they never wanted the community’s natural blueprint to change.

“It’s a little oasis right in the middle of the city,” said Mike Boyle, a longtime homeowner near Underhill Park.

He loves bringing his son to the park for him to explore the natural landscape. Boyle’s not alone.

“We love it. This place is really good,” said Manoj Thirupal. He comes to the park with friends to play cricket.

Neighbors have gotten used to the extra green space in their backyard to walk their dogs and find solace from the business of the city. It’s been in the hands of private owners but never touched. Now, stakes are in the ground, and seven homes and a road are in the works.

“To go up and sit there and say that this is going to help the housing shortage, the only person it’s helping is the developer,” Boyle said.

He’s devastated the city is for this kind of development and thinks they’re leaving the public out of the process.

“We need infill development all over the city,” said Brian Coddington, the city’s spokesperson. “We need development for residential at all different levels.”

He says these types of projects are needed to address the housing shortage. Since the land was already zoned for this use, the development can move forward. It’s a stance Boyle doesn’t agree with.

“To sit there in the name of the almighty dollar to tear this down just to hand a developer some dollars is unfathomable to me,” he added.

Sam Mace, another longtime homeowner, loves walking her dog Jackson along the undeveloped trails. She’s worried future generations will lose the experience of living in East Central. She’s working to raise money to see if they can buy the land from the developer to preserve and protect the nature they love.

“Can we buy this land back? Is there a way to protect it and protect these values for the next generation?” she asked.

She hopes the project will pause, and the city will listen to their concerns about the place they call home.

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