The University District wouldn’t be what it is today without the early work of Dave Clack. Consequently, honoring his work by naming the new U District pedestrian bridge after him is the best option.
His wife, Mari, also has been instrumental in furthering medical education in Spokane area, so naming the structure after the couple is an equally worthy consideration.
An ad-hoc committee established by the city is considering names for the bridge this week, with the intention of providing recommendations to the city’s Planning Commission by month’s end. A public hearing is scheduled for March 14, after which the City Council will decide the bridge’s namesake.
The 450-foot-long, 120-foot-high bridge is expected to be completed later this year. It will connect the U District to the east Sprague Avenue neighborhood, opening up potential for greater expansion in the southern part of the district. Already, Avista Development plans to build the $50 million Catalyst Building near the southern landing of the bridge, with the potential for additional buildings there in the future.
Arguably, there might not be a University District to expand without Clack’s early work. A retired executive of Old National Bank, Clack was one of four co-chairmen to lead Momentum, an economic development effort launched in 1987. One goal of the effort was to diversify Spokane’s economy away from resource dependency, a common challenge at the time for Northwest communities.
One way to accomplish that was through development of a higher education park on old railroad land east of the city’s core. Clack pushed for such an effort, and the Riverpoint Higher Education Park—the precursor to the University District—came to life.
Clack wasn’t alone in that effort, of course, but he was a driving force.
Now, the University District is home to WSU’s newly formed medical school, as well as its pharmacy and nursing schools and other health sciences departments. UW has expanded its medical training here, and as the Spokane business community learned earlier this month, Eastern Washington University is going to move several programs to the University District.
In addition to laying the groundwork for the greater presence of higher education in Spokane, the Clacks also are the catalysts for the Friends of WWAMI Spokane program, which was developed to provide support to University of Washington medical students who are being educated in Spokane. They continue to be involved in that endeavor.
Clack’s contributions through the years are extensive. He served as chairman of the Greater Spokane Chamber of Commerce, the Association for Washington Business, the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts, and the Spokane International Airport. The list goes on—and doesn’t include the many quiet efforts performed by the Clacks for the community they demonstratively love.
But it’s his early work encouraging higher education growth in Spokane that should be remembered and honored. Naming the pedestrian bridge after him would be an ideal way to do that.
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