Environmental Law and Land Use Clinic assists Spokane’s Park Board

August 11, 2017
This summer, the U.S. Bank Pavilion in Spokane’s Riverfront Park sparked an intense debate that arose out of the decision of whether and how to cover the pavilion. Moving beyond design decisions to the structure and function of Spokane’s Park Board, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart asked Gonzaga Law’s Environmental Law and Land Use Clinic for help. Specifically, Stuckart sought guidance about the ways that other Washington cities governed their park systems. Rising second-year student Brad Sharp addressed this issue of board governance and briefed the Spokane City Council on the factors that made Spokane’s Park Board unique. Sharp noted that Spokane’s Park Board had significant autonomy that similar boards across the state did not enjoy. Sharp pointed to the Park Board’s budget, a dedicated sum over which the Board has sole authority to disperse—a sum that must equal 8% of the City’s general fund spending across all departments for the prior year. “For the majority of all park boards in the state, the funds are dispersed by budget requests. They’ll get an approval for ‘x’ dollars annually by city government,” Sharp said. Sharp noted that, while Tacoma’s park board came close, no other city in Washington had a park board that enjoyed Spokane’s level of independence. Sharp came to Gonzaga Law with a well-developed dedication to public service. He served as an aide in the Washington State Senate during 2015 and 2016 and continues to serve with the U.S. Air Force Reserves. During his first year, his volunteered with the First Responder Wills Clinic and Juvenile Records Sealing Clinics which allow even first-year students to get practical experience as they work with real clients alongside local attorneys. Gonzaga offers wide range of opportunities within the University Legal Assistance, a not-for-profit clinical law program that is divided into seven practice areas.